Black Ensemble Theatre Announces the 40th Anniversary Season

Black Ensemble Theater’s Founder and CEO Jackie Taylor announces the 40th Anniversary Season (The Season of Greatest Hits). The season opens with audience-favorites Doo Wop Shoo Bop and Those Sensational Soulful ‘60s, running in repertory. The 40th Anniversary Season continues with modern tributes to musical legends including Dionne Warwick, Marvin Gaye, Jackie Wilson, and Teddy Pendergrass and will close with the Black Ensemble Theater holiday classic The Other Cinderella.
“The Black Ensemble 40th Anniversary Season is something to celebrate,” says Jackie Taylor. “That is why we are choosing to produce seven productions in the Season instead of our regular five.” In trying to select the most popular and biggest hits of our existence, it became apparent that this year had to be the year of seven award-winning, critically-acclaimed productions. All season-long, we are bringing some of the most critically-acclaimed and popular productions which help to reflect the 40-year history of the Black Ensemble Theater. Together with the Black Ensemble musicians, performers and designers, I look forward to a season full of some of the greatest stories ever told.”
The Black Ensemble Theater’s 40th Anniversary Season includes:

Doo Wop Shoo Bop & Those Sensational Soulful ‘60s
(Running In Repertory) February 13 – March 20, 2016
Those Sensational Soulful ‘60s
Written and Directed by Jackie Taylor
February 13 – March 19, 2016
Previews: February 13 at 8 pm and February 20 at 8 pm
Opening: Sunday, February 21, 2016, at 7 pm
Schedule: Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7 pm and Saturdays at 8 pm
Those Sensational Soulful ‘60s is a highly energetic and fun remembrance of the golden era of the sixties. Black Ensemble will take audiences back in time as they bring back the hits of the great 60’s groups such as The Temptations and The Four Tops, soul singers of the era including Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Mary Wells and many other soulful surprises.

Doo Wop Shoo Bop
Written by Jackie Taylor and Jimmy Tillman Directed by Jackie Taylor
February 14 – March 20, 2016
Previews: February 14 at 3 pm, February 19 at 8 pm, and February 20 at 8 pm Opening: Sunday, February 21, 2016, at 3 pm
Schedule: Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 3 pm, and Sundays at 3 pm
This melodic look at the Doo Wop era celebrates such iconic groups as The Platters, The Drifters, and the Chantels. Doo Wop Shoo Bop first premiered in 1995 and had several revivals because it is, indeed, a Black Ensemble Theater treasure. Snap your fingers to the beat as we take a stroll down memory lane hearing those beautiful songs like “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” “This Magic Moment” and “Maybe.” This production explores how the successful music of today is related to the magical era of Doo Wop, bringing the ‘50s into the 21st Century.

Don’t Make Me Over (In Tribute to Dionne Warwick)
Written by Jackie Taylor
Directed by Rueben Echoles
April 9 – May 15, 2016
Previews: April 9, 10, 15, and 16, 2016
Opening: Sunday, April 17, 2016, at 3:00 pm
Schedule: Thursdays at 7 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 3 pm and 8 pm, and Sundays at 3 pm
Don’t Make Me Over (In Tribute to Dionne Warwick) is a historical journey that explores Ms. Warwick’s accomplishments over the decades and details her musical contributions. Don’t Make Me Over features 23 of Ms. Warwick’s biggest hits including “Walk On By,”Message To Michael,”Alfie” and “I Say A Little Prayer,” just to name a few.

The Marvin Gaye Story (Don’t Talk About My Father Because God Is My Friend) Written by Jackie Taylor
Directed by Daryl D. Brooks
June 4 – July 10, 2016
Previews: June 4, 5, 10, and 11, 2016
Opening: Sunday, June 12, 2016, at 3 pm
Schedule: Wednesdays & Thursdays at 7 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 3 pm and 8 pm, and Sundays at 3 pm
Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr, otherwise known as Marvin Gaye, was known for his deeply soulful music and his phenomenal success in the music industry. The Marvin Gaye Story brings back the spirit of the “Prince of Soul” with songs like “Mercy, Mercy, Me” and “What’s Goin’ On.” This production serves as a musical journey of the legendary man behind the music.

The Jackie Wilson Story
Written and Directed by Jackie Taylor
July 30 – September 4, 2016
Previews: July 30 & 31 and August 5 & 6, 2016
Opening: Sunday, August 7, 2016, at 3 pm
Schedule: Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 3 pm and 8 pm, and Sundays at 3 pm
The Jackie Wilson Story returns to Chicago after an extremely successful opening in 2000 and remount in 2012, plus a national tour in 2002, which culminated at the famous Apollo Theater in New York City. This high energy, yet touching, the story follows the career of one of the greatest entertainers who ever lived.

I Am Who I Am (The Story of Teddy Pendergrass)
Written by Jackie Taylor
Directed by Daryl Brooks
September 24 – October 30, 2016
Previews: September 24, 25, 30 and October 1, 2016
Opening: Sunday, October 2, 2016, at 3 pm
Schedule: Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 3 pm and 8 pm, and Sundays at 3 pm
Teddy Pendergrass was considered to be soul music’s number one sex symbol in the 70’s with songs like “Turn Off The Lights,” “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” and “Wake Up Everybody.” He was on top of the
world and at the height of his career in 1982 until his devastating car accident that left him a quadriplegic. There is so much to understand and admire about Teddy Pendergrass.

The Other Cinderella
Written by Jackie Taylor
Directed by Jackie Taylor and Rueben Echoles
November 26, 2016 – January 8, 2017
Previews: November 26 & 27 and December 2 &3, 2016
Opening: Sunday, December 4, 2016, at 3 pm
Schedule: Thursdays at 7 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays 3 pm and 8 pm, and Sundays at 3 pm
The most famous of all the Black Ensemble Theater productions this holiday classic always features some new twist, turns, and surprises. The show joyously retells the familiar fairy tale with an Afro-centric twist. There’s a “Stepmama” who works at the post office, two mean, evil but especially funny stepsisters, the brothers are from the ‘hood, Cinderella was born in the projects and the “Fairy Godmama” is from Jamaica. The Other Cinderella is appropriate for all ages, featuring original music, exciting dances and a heartwarming story that reminds audiences of the greatness of the human spirit.
In addition to Black Ensemble Theater’s regular season, a number of special events will be presented during the year:

BPI Black Playwrights Festival
April 24 – 26, 2016 at 7pm
The 11th Annual Black Playwrights Festival brings a weekend of new scripts to the BE stage, as part of the company’s Black Playwright’s Initiative (BPI). Written by BPI members and developed through the BPI process, all featured scripts will receive engaging and innovative readings.
Sex In The Summer Series
August 23 – 24, 2016
Black Ensemble presents its 8th Annual Sex in the Summer Series, featuring new works by members of the Black Playwright’s Initiative (BPI) focused on the subject of sex.
Black Ensemble Theater Gala October 14, 2016

The Annual Black Ensemble New Year’s Eve Show
December 31, 2016
Like all Black Ensemble events, the New Year’s Eve celebration will be an occasion filled with joy and excitement. Guests at the celebration will enjoy a performance by the stars of Black Ensemble Theater, along with great entertainment, fabulous food, dancing with the stars and champagne flowing all night long!
Tickets are available at, (773) 769-4451 or at the Black Ensemble Theater Box Office, 4450 N. Clark Street in Chicago. Single tickets for regular season performances are priced at $55 on Wednesday, Thursdays, and Saturday matinees; and $65 on Fridays, Saturday evenings, and Sunday matinees. A 10% discount is available for students, seniors, and groups.
The Black Ensemble Theater will sell the 40th Anniversary Gold Card, which allows the holder to see all seven plays for a discounted price of $385.00. The 40th Anniversary Gold Card is good for one ticket per production. For more details or to purchase a 40th Anniversary Gold Card contact the box office at 773- 769-4451.

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