Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-01-16
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



THEATER REVIEW A New Attitude, In Tribute to Patti LaBelle

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


A New Attitude:

In Tribute to

Patti LaBelle

Playwright: Rueben D. Echoles

At: Black Ensemble Theater

Cultural Center, 4450 N. Clark St.

Tickets: $55-65;, 773-769-4451

Runs through: June 17


Patti LaBelle is known for many things: the hit song "Lady Marmalade," kicking off her shoes, her epic rendition of the ABC's on Sesame Street and, most recently, her signature pies.

It's hard to believe this septuagenarian superstar was once a shy, anxious girl from Philadelphia whose mother bribed her to play outside. Black Ensemble Theater productions are always a rollicking good time, full of flashy costumes, fantastic music and stunning voices. Although it's about half an hour too long, A New Attitude: In Tribute to Patti LaBelle fits right into the Black Ensemble Theater canon, with a phenomenal house band and two stellar leading ladies ( Dawn Bless and Cherise Thomas ) sharing the role of LaBelle herself.

Perfectly capturing Patti's love of sparkle, undulating arm movements and gravity-defying vocals, Bless and Thomas take us through the ups and downs of the legendary singer's life. Her father chose gambling over his family, leaving young Patti devastated, until respite arrived in the form of church choir. Knowing she had a God-given gift, LaBelle pursued management as a teenager, but had to win over record producers who thought she was "too dark and plain" to sell records. Later, she faced racism while touring in the South, broke off an engagement with The Temptations' Otis Williams ( Christopher Taylor ) and initially resisted a more sexual, political sound for her group, LaBelle. Even when she established an acclaimed solo career and married the ever-loyal Armstead ( Trequon Tate ), life was never completely smooth. Still, LaBelle revels in her well-earned triumph, using her powerful voice for all it's worth.

A New Attitude writer-director Rueben D. Echoles knows how to captivate an audience, interspersing scenes from Patti's life with phenomenal renditions of her hits, such as her glorious cover of "Over the Rainbow" and "On My Own", her hit duet with Michael McDonald ( Mark Yacullo ). Echoles also designed the show's costumes, resulting in a visual feast of feathered headdresses, sequined evening gowns and vibrant colors. ( It's hard to believe Patti wouldn't enthusiastically approve. ) A four-piece onstage band, featuring musical director/arranger Robert Reddrick on drums is one of the strongest I've ever heard, supplementing Bless and Thomas' angelic voices to create a full, rich sound that inspires clapping, cheering and dancing.

Though the production boasts a wonderful ensemble, most playing multiple roles, Bless and Thomas carry the show. As younger Patti ( known as Patsy until she started singing professionally ), Thomas radiates sass and vulnerability in equal measure, with an incredible vocal range that carries to the back row of the mezzanine. Bless' commanding presence and take-no-prisoners attitude dares the audience to look away, and her voice is, in a word, awe-inspiring. A New Attitude is a fun evening for hard-core fans and Patti newbies alike, a fitting tribute to a true diva who never stops shining bright.

facebook twitter 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.


Gay News

Digital lottery, rush tickets for 'Fiddler' 2019-02-02 - Broadway In Chicago announced that there will be a digital lottery and rush tickets for the Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof, ...

Gay News

New authors take on hard-hitting subjects at Playwrights Festival 2019-01-16 - With this year's crop of student one-acts, Pegasus Theatre Chicago is tackling homophobia, gentrification and other urban ordinariness that carries a political charge ...

Gay News

Fillet of Solo Storytelling Fest, Archy Jamjun, A Boy & A Diva Jan. 18, 25 2019-01-16 - Two-time The Moth GrandSLAM winner Archy Jamjun premieres his debut one man show, A Boy & A Diva, Jan. 18 and 25, as ...

Gay News

'Hedwig' tour in Chicago in 2019 2019-01-16 - John Cameron Mitchell—the Tony-winning, Golden Globe-nominated co-creator of Hedwig & the Angry Inch—will bring his rock spectacle to the United States for the ...

Gay News

Groundbreaking 'I AM... Fest' April 27-29 2019-01-16 - Black Lives, Black Words International Project will launch the I AM… Fest, in partnership with Goodman Theatre. This first-of-its-kind international festival will take ...

Gay News

Johnson/Nash book release party Jan. 31 2019-01-16 - A joint book release celebrating E. Patrick Johnson's Black. Queer. Southern. Women: An Oral History and Jennifer Nash's Black Feminism Reimagined: After Intersectionality ...

Gay News

OUT on Stage' Jan. 17 on Dekkoo 2019-01-16 - OUT on Stage: The Series will debut Thursday, Jan. 17, on LGBT subscription-based streaming network Dekkoo. Zach Noe Towers hosts the show, which ...

Gay News

18th Annual Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival line-up named 2019-01-16 - SketchFest Executive Producer Jill Valentine announced the official line-up for the 18th Annual Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival, taking place through Jan. 20 at ...

Gay News

'Nina Simone' through March 2 2019-01-16 - Northlight Theatre, under the direction of Artistic Director BJ Jones and Executive Director Timothy J. Evans, continues its 2018-19 season with Nina Simone: ...

Gay News

NUNN ON ONE Kristina Valada-Viars: Out actress discusses lengthy career 2019-01-16 - Out actress Kristina Valada-Viars continues to expand her life in theater. A big part of this is thanks to the Steppenwolf and ...


Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our 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.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

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     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-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.