CHICAGO: Black Ensemble Theater has announced its 2016 season, the company’s 40th, featuring tributes to musical legends and holiday classics.
“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,” said founder and executive director Jackie Taylor in a statement. “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 season begins with Those Sensational Soulful ‘60s (Feb. 13—March 20), written by Taylor, including hits from the Temptations, the Four Tops, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, and Mary Wells. Taylor will direct.
Doo Wop Shoo Bop (Feb. 13—March 204, by Taylor and Jimmy Tillman, celebrates iconic groups as the Platters, the Drifters, and the Chantels and will run in repertory with Those Sensational Soulful ‘60s.
Next will be Taylor’s Don’t Make Me Over (In Tribute to Dionne Warwick) (April 9—May 15), a detailed journey of Warwick’s musical career. Rueben Echoles will direct.
Following will be Taylor’s The Marvin Gaye Story (Don’t Talk About My Father Because God Is My Friend) (June 4—July 10), about the soulful music and life of Marvin Gaye. Daryl D. Brooks will direct.
Next is the return of Taylor’s The Jackie Wilson Story (July 30—Sept. 4), which completed a national tour that culminated at the Apollo Theater in New York City in 2003. The story follows the life and career of Jackie Wilson, soul singer-songwriter and performer. Taylor will direct.
Following is Taylor’s I Am Who I Am (The Story of Teddy Pendergrass) (Sept. 24—Oct. 30), about Pendergrass’ music and life after a devastating car accident that left him a quadriplegic. Brooks will direct.
The season concludes with the return of Taylor’s The Other Cinderella (Nov. 26—Jan. 8), a staple production of the Black Ensemble Theater, which tells the classic tale with an Afro-centric twist. Taylor and Echoles will direct.
Also part of the season will be the Black Playwrights Festival (April 24—26); the Sex in the Summer Series (Aug. 23—24), which features new plays; and the annual Black Theater Ensemble New Year’s Eve show (Dec. 31).