As of January 1, 2016, Gapers Block has ceased publication. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions over the past 12-plus years. 

TODAY

Wednesday, December 13

Gapers Block
Search

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr


A/C
« Interview: Joel Kim Booster Thanksgiving Reads: Hope Dies Last: The Lasting Scars of Difficult Times »

Theater Wed Nov 23 2011

Review: The Jackie Wilson Story @ Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center

KR JWILSON-thumb-341x512-8459.jpg

This past weekend, fans of the Black Ensemble Theater enjoyed the opening of the new Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N. Clark St., with the kickoff of the 2011-2012 season entitled "Legendary Season of Rhythm and Blues."

The Jackie Wilson Story, an audience favorite that was revamped for the new season, premiered at the new, sleek and modern 299-seat venue, to a host of both old and new fans. Written, directed and produced by theater founder and director Jackie Taylor, the story serves as the ultimate tribute to the late soul singer.

The story begins with Jackie Wilson (Kelvin Roston, Jr.) lying in a hospital bed (Wilson was comatose for eight years until he died in 1984); however, the story takes the audience back through a timeline of the key moments of his life beginning with his days in a Detroit street gang, his strong bond with his mother Eliza Mae (Dawn Bless), his brief stint as a member of the Dominoes, his marriage accompanied by various infidelities, alcohol and substance abuse, shady record label executives, but most importantly, his passion to sing and entertain, thus earning him the nickname of "Mr. Excitement."

Although not necessarily a Wilson look-alike, Roston is more than engaging and entertaining in the title role as he takes the audience on a musical ride (backed by the stronger than ever Black Ensemble Band), belting out Wilson's greatest hits including "To Be Loved," "Lonely Teardrops," "A Woman, A Lover, A Friend," as well as a convincingly passionate rendition of "Doggin' Around." His dancing and physicality are also impressive--he does splits and backbends that are certain to wow any audience.

While it is a typical "rise and fall of" story, the cast indeed pays a solid tribute to Wilson; however, it would fare better if there was more meat to the plot--the actors come across as more anxious to get to the singing and dancing scenes rather than give a strong acting performance.

Thumbnail image for Kelvin_Roston_Jr,_Melanie_McCullough_-_2.jpg

Kelvin Roston, Jr. and Melanie McCullough

In the end, especially via the show's grand finale of "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher," you definitely feel the spirit of Taylor's love and appreciation for Wilson's musical legacy, and in the new Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, you could feel the love and appreciation for a fabulous new facility and another soulful season.

See The Jackie Wilson Story now through January 8 on Wednesdays through Sundays; times vary. Tickets are $55-$65 and are available online or through the box office at 773-769-4451.

Photos: Danny Nicholas

 
GB store
GB store

Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

Blogroll

ACRE
An Angry White Guy
Antena
AREA Chicago
ArchitectureChicago Plus
Arts Engagement Exchange
The Art Letter
Art or Idiocy?
Art Slant Chicago
Art Talk Chicago
Bad at Sports
Bite and Smile
Brian Dickie of COT
Bridgeport International
Carrie Secrist Gallery
Chainsaw Calligraphy
Chicago Art Blog
Chicago Art Department
Chicago Art Examiner
Chicago Art Journal
Chicago Artists Resource
Chicago Art Map
Chicago Art Review
Chicago Classical Music
Chicago Comedy Examiner
Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Daily Views
Chicago Film Examiner
Chicago Film Archives
Chicago Gallery News
Chicago Uncommon
Collaboraction
Contemporary Art Space
Co-op Image Group
Co-Prosperity Sphere
Chicago Urban Art Society
Creative Control
Defibrillator
Devening Projects
Digressions
DIY Film
ebersmoore
The Exhibition Agency
The Flatiron Project
F newsmagazine
The Gallery Crawl...
Galerie F
The Gaudy God
Happy Dog Gallery
HollywoodChicago
Homeroom Chicago
I, Homunculus
Hyde Park Artcenter Blog
InCUBATE
Joyce Owens: Artist on Art
J-Pointe
Julius Caesar
Kasia Kay Gallery
Kavi Gupta Gallery
Rob Kozlowski
Lookingglass Theatre Blog
Lumpen Blog
Marquee
Mess Hall
N'DIGO
Neoteric Art
NewcityArt
NewcityFilm
NewcityStage
Not If But When
Noun and Verb
On Film
On the Make
Onstage
Peanut Gallery
Peregrine Program
Performink
The Poor Choices Show
Pop Up Art Loop
The Post Family
The Recycled Film
Reversible Eye
Rhona Hoffman Gallery
Roots & Culture Gallery
SAIC Blog
The Seen
Sharkforum
Sisterman Vintage
Site of Big Shoulders
Sixty Inches From Center
Soleil's To-Do's
Sometimes Store
Steppenwolf.blog
Stop Go Stop
Storefront Rebellion
TOC Blog
Theater for the Future
Theatre in Chicago
The Franklin
The Mission
The Theater Loop
Thomas Robertello Gallery
threewalls
Time Tells Tony Wight Gallery
Uncommon Photographers
The Unscene Chicago
The Visualist
Vocalo
Western Exhibitions
What's Going On?
What to Wear During an Orange Alert?
You, Me, Them, Everybody
Zg Gallery

GB store

 

Events


A/C on Flickr

Join the A/C Flickr Pool.



About A/C

A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Nancy Bishop, nancy@gapersblock.com
A/C staff inbox: ac@gapersblock.com

Archives

 

A/C Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15