Windy City Media Group Frontpage News Home
CELEBRATING 28+ YEARS OF Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender NEWS

Search Gay News Articles
Advanced Search
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2014-08-27
Download Issue
  News Index       Archives   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds   AIDS @ 32
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime

FGG co-president opens up on Gay Games past, present, future FGG co-president opens up on Gay Games past, present, future
Despite significantly fewer participants than either of the past two Gay Games, ...

Browse Gay News Index   Browse Gay News Archives
  Windy City Times

Black Ensemble Theater finds new groove with new space
SCOTTISH PLAY SCOTT
by Scott C. Morgan, Windy City Times
2011-11-23

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


I felt slightly ashamed interviewing Black Ensemble Theater founder and executive director Jackie Taylor in the morning of Nov. 18—the very day that the new Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, located at 4450 N. Clark, was set to open that evening with a starry guest list including such showbiz and political luminaries like Dionne Warwick and Gov. Pat Quinn.

During the telephone interview, Taylor revealed she was up until 3 a.m. that morning working out last-minute details for the center's inaugural production: a revival of her musical The Jackie Wilson Story, Black Ensemble's most famous and acclaimed hit. (Look for a review from Mary Shen Barnidge in the Nov. 30 issue of Windy City Times.) At another point in the interview, three different phones started ringing simultaneously around her.

However, despite the stress and pressure, Taylor took time out of that special day to talk up the glories and potential of the Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center.

"It's part of a vision and it's a dream come true," Taylor said, adding that Black Ensemble only had about a week to move into and rehearse in its new space. "We're capable of doing so many more things now and we're so happy."

Black Ensemble's new cultural center includes a state-of-the-art 299-seat main stage (double the size of Black Ensemble's previous space in the basement of Hull House in Uptown), spacious administrative offices and a small parking garage. There is also to be a 150-seat studio theater to showcase new works created through the company's Black Play Initiative. However, that space still needs to be finished.

Yet what's on display is certainly impressive, as evidenced during an open house of the complex the following day. The tour guides boasted that there wasn't a bad seat in the main theater's cozy auditorium, what with the tiered seating around a curved thrust stage (still littered with confetti from the previous night). No doubt the performers will prize the extra dressing rooms available to them backstage, while audiences will greatly appreciate the expanded lobbies and restrooms.

If there's one quibble I have, it's the large and blunt gray concrete wall on the theater's exterior facing Sunnyside Avenue. Hopefully, one day it will become a canvas for a massive mural celebrating African-American artists and musicians.

Despite Black Ensemble's expanded quarters, Taylor still plans to stick to the company's scheduling of shows that eschews a set subscription season in favor of extending hits when they happen. So even though several shows are slated for 2012, many might get delayed if one musical becomes a breakout hit.

When asked if the forthcoming studio theater would be rented out to other theater companies, Taylor said she would rather use it for Black Ensemble productions.

"We want to sustain and maintain our own identity," Taylor said, revealing that she hopes to open the studio space with a musical about the life of the late and influential rapper Tupac Shakur. "That theater is to develop youthful audiences, different audiences, experimental audiences and it will be an experimental stage for us so that we'll keep our product of our great musical theater but we'll also be able to experiment with different kinds of theater."

However, no matter what shows Black Ensemble produces, be they jukebox musicals around great African-American artists or family dramas, Taylor insists that there will be a musical component because it ties into the company's mission statement.

"Our mission is to eradicate racism and music translates into so many different cultures," Taylor said about the universality of music to break down barriers among different groups of people. "We want to sustain that aspect of our productions."

Jackie Taylor's The Jackie Wilson Story continues now through Jan. 8 at the new Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N. Clark. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are $55-$65 (group, students and senior discounts available). Call 773-769-4451 or visit www.blackensemble.org .

Memphis on DiPietro's mind

Much like the mission of Black Ensemble Theater, the Tony Award-winning musical Memphis aims to show how music can help break down prejudice. Memphis is based upon a white DJ who broke social norms in the segregated South of the 1950s by playing African-American artists on a mainstream radio stations.

"I heard the story and thought, wow, I've never thought about that aspect of how music integrated society and how DJs of course had to be the people playing this music," said gay playwright and Memphis co-creator Joe DiPietro during a telephone interview. "I thought what a great American story that I wasn't aware of and I figured many other people wouldn't either."

Although DiPietro had worked with other theater composers before (notable on off-Broadway hits like I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change and The Toxic Avenger), he wanted Memphis to have more of a rock and roll score. DiPietro luckily found an equally enthusiastic collaborator in Bon Jovi co-founder David Bryan, who wrote his first Broadway score with Memphis. Both DiPietro and Bryan won two Tony Awards apiece for their contributions to the show's script, score and orchestrations, while Memphis also won the award of best musical for the 2009-10 season.

Memphis is still playing on Broadway and now comes to Chicago as part of a national tour that began last month in (where else?) Memphis, Tenn.

"Chicago's been very good to me as a writer," DiPietro said, noting how he's had successful local productions ranging from his family-friendly comedy Over the River and Through the Woods at the Mercury Theatre to the gay adult comic-drama Fucking Men (a hit for the reconstituted Bailiwick Chicago). "I have a great affinity for Chicago since it's a great theater town."

Memphis continues through Dec. 4 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St. The performance schedule varies, but is mostly 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays (no show Nov. 24); it's also at 2 p.m. Nov. 25 and 30. Tickets are $32-$100; call 800-775-2000 or visit www.broadwayinchicago.com .


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.

Hytes wins Miss Continental title 2014-09-02
Musical theater incubator launches with Chicago-native/Broadway stars 2014-08-27
Broadway in Chicago puts on free summer show 2014-08-27
'Fringe' festival features diversity of shows, performers 2014-08-27
THEATER REVIEW On the Town 2014-08-27
THEATER REVIEW Stupid F*kg Bird 2014-08-27
THEATER REVIEW Clemente: The Legend of 21 2014-08-27
CRITICS' PICKS 2014-08-27
Witch Slap! 2014-08-27
Spotlight: House of Mirth 2014-08-27
Wanda Sykes talks kids, family and hitting the road 2014-08-27
Performer from 'RuPaul' in Chicago Sept. 3 2014-08-26
Collective throws 'Queerpocalypse' preview 2014-08-26
Goodman, Drury Lane lead Jeff Awards Equity nomS 2014-08-21
THEATER REVIEW Steppenwolf First Look Repertory of New Work 2014-08-20
Kiss of 'Meth' Writer/performer Strafford on play on addiction 2014-08-20
THEATER REVIEW Some Men 2014-08-20
CRITICS' PICKS 2014-08-20
THEATER REVIEW Coraline 2014-08-20
THEATER REVIEW All Our Tragic 2014-08-20
Steppenwolf First Look Repertory of New Work 2014-08-20
Theater Spotlight: My First Time 2014-08-19
'Billy Elliot' at Drury Lane in 2015 2014-08-19
Jane Lynch to announce Jeff Award nominations 2014-08-19
Willa Taylor showcases Goodman's behind-the-script talents 2014-08-19
Kinky Boots returning to Chicago in 2015 2014-08-19
'The Marvelettes' at Black Ensemble thru Sept. 7 2014-08-19
Chicago Theatre Week expanding next year 2014-08-19
'Jangleheart Circus' at The Den Aug. 21-23 2014-08-19
Tales of a Stage 4 Cancer: One woman plus one woman comedy show 2014-08-14
THEATER REVIEW Down Range 2014-08-13
THEATER REVIEW Fiddler on the Roof 2014-08-13
THEATER REVIEW The Dueling Gentlemen 2014-08-13
THEATER SPOTLIGHT Abbie Hoffman Died for Our Sins Theater Fest 2014-08-13
THEATER REVIEW Churchill 2014-08-13
CRITICS' PICKS 2014-08-13
Jane Lynch to announce Jeff Awards Aug. 21 2014-08-12
Willa Taylor showcases Goodman Theatre's original behind the script talents 2014-08-11
THEATER REVIEW Intimate Apparel 2014-08-06
THEATER REVIEW Take the Cake 2014-08-06





Copyright © 2014 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
the online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 



 

Attendees board 'Soul Train' at ALCC event
 
DINING Freshii's Alex Blair on expanding empire
 
Way-out Wizard World: costumes, characters, artists
 
Michael Jackson tribute Aug. 28-30 in Gary, Indiana
 
New Lurie clinic marks $2.5-million gift
 
Windy City Times Current DownloadNightspots Current DownloadQueercast Current Download
Windy City Media Group BlogsJoin Our Email List!Donate Now








  News Index       Archives   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds   AIDS @ 32
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime



About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video      News Videos      Nightspots Videos      Entertainment Videos      Queercast Videos      Comedy Videos     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.