- Created on 27 December 2012
Jackie Taylor, Founder and Executive Director of the Black Ensemble Theater, announces the Black Ensemble Theater's 36th Season of Excellence titled "Treasures and Tributes." The 36th season includes original musicals paying tribute to the Doo Wop era, Curtis Mayfield, Howlin Wolf, and Chicago's Golden Soul, reports Theatre in Chicago.
"After our record breaking first year in our new home with more than $2.5 million in ticket sales, we wanted a Season that would guarantee hit after hit. And we feel that with this astounding season of Treasures and Tributes, we will continue our enormous success. Music will continue to be the dominant theme of the Season offering the exciting genres of Doo Wop, Blues, Rhythm and Blues and Soul," says Jackie Taylor.
Jackie Taylor and her team of Associate Directors Rueben Echoles and Daryl Brooks have elected to make a change in the theater's usual tradition. Each play will be run as scheduled instead of extending for a lengthy time. Taylor comments, "We are in a new space and we want to continue pushing the momentum forward. In that sense we think it is important to concentrate on the variety of the productions rather than the length. This allows us to better promote our 5 Play Card while offering even more flexibility in its use over a subscription."
The Black Ensemble Theater's 36th Season of Excellence: Treasures and Tributes includes:
Doo Wop Shoo Bop
Written by Jackie Taylor, Jimmy Tillman and Rueben Echoles
Directed by Jackie Taylor
February 7, 2013-March 31, 2013
Opening: Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 3:00 p.m.
This melodic look at the Doo Wop era celebrates such iconic groups as The Platters, The Drifters and the Chantels (just to name a few). Since it first premiered in 1995 it has had several revivals because it is indeed a Black Ensemble Theater Treasure. You can't help but 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 while exploring how the successful music of today is related to the magical era of Doo Wop. With the emphasis on Doo Wop music this is a production that brings the '50s into the 21st Century.
It's All-Right To Have A Good Time (The Story of Curtis Mayfield)
Written by Liz Catherine
Directed by Jackie Taylor and Daryl Brooks
April 25, 2013-June 23, 2013
Opening: Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 3:00 p.m.
Black Ensemble's first tribute of the season is the story of a musical giant. He was the master song writer of his time. From the music of the Impressions like "Gypsy Woman," "I'm So Proud," "Choice of Colors" to the movie hits like "Superfly," he was a genius of a musician, a dynamite songwriter and a loving human being. The music of Chicago's own Curtis Mayfield is known and celebrated all over the world.
Howlin At The Moon (The Story of Howlin Wolf)
Written by Jackie Taylor and Jimmy Tillman
Directed by Rueben Echoles
Starring Rick Stone
July 25, 2013-September 15, 2013
Opening: Sunday, July 28, 2013 at 3 p.m.
When it first premiered in 2003, Hedy Weiss of the Chicago Sun Times wrote "It's Rick Stone who consistently knocks your socks off in his terrifically sustained performance. And as he moves through Wolf's hits—"Red Rooster," "Goin' Down Slow," "I Ain't Superstitious," "Baby Please Don't Go" and more—it's the audience that begins howlin' loudest." And for our second treasure of the season, Rick Stone is coming back to do it again in this love story reflecting the life and times of one of the greatest blues singers the world has ever known - Howlin Wolf.
Chicago's Golden Soul
Written and Directed by Jackie Taylor
October 17, 2013-January 5, 2014
Opening: Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 3:00 p.m.The fantastic BE season will end with a combination of Treasure and Tribute. First produced
in 1998, this wonderful treasure of a production is a tribute to the music that put Chicago on the map as a national musical force. This Chicago celebration brings back the music of Jerry Butler, the Chi-Lites, Gene Chandler, Barbara Acklin and many, many more in this rollicking tribute to the music that made Chicago famous.
Black Ensemble Theater performance times are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 3:00 and 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00. Ticket prices are as follows:
Previews are $45; Tickets during the regular run are $55 (Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturday matinees) and $65 (Fridays, Saturday evenings and Sunday matinees).
The Five Play Card is a much more flexible way of becoming a subscriber to the theater's 36th Season of Excellence: Treasures and Tributes. The Five Play Card can be used for one person to see 5 plays or to bring 4 other friends to one show or in any other combination that adds up to five. The Five Play Cards issued in 2013 will be good for one year.
- Created on 26 December 2012
Huffington Post writer, Katy Hall, shares her Kwanzaa experience and views in the following article.
A good friend of mine was in northern Illinois on business last week when someone wished her a happy Kwanzaa. The greeter was surely just trying to be inclusive—Elgin, Ill., has an African-American population of about 6.9 percent—so his experience with black people and their holidays was probably limited.
"OMG just got my first 'Happy Kwanzaa' ever from someone who clearly does not celebrate it. Thank you, Elgin, Illinois," my friend, a 30-year-old lawyer with Nigerian-born parents, wrote on her Facebook page. Like most African Americans, she does not celebrate Kwanzaa. She celebrates Christmas, but so do plenty of people who light the Kinara.
Kwanzaa, which runs from December 26 to January 1, was created by activist professor Maulana Karenga in 1966 to celebrate African heritage. Karenga has claimed that 28 million people worldwide celebrate the holiday, but only an estimated half-million to 2 million Americans do, according to Keith Mayes, author of Black Power and the Making of the African-American Holiday Tradition.
"It just no longer shows up in some of the places that it did 30 to 40 years ago," Mayes told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "You still have people who actually celebrate it. You have third generations of Kwanzaa celebrants... but Kwanzaa no longer has its movement which brought it forth, which is the black power movement. That movement has waned."
If Mayes—a University of Minnesota professor in African-American studies who is considered by national outlets to be an expert on the subject—has his numbers right, somewhere between 1 and 5 percent of the 40 million people in the U.S. who identify as African Americans celebrate Kwanzaa. Telling a random black person on the street "Happy birthday month!" is a safer bet than "Happy Kwanzaa!" But this time of year, people, white people especially, tend to toss the greeting at black people they don't even know.
Even Kanye West was reportedly wished a Happy Kwanzaa—by a TMZ paparazzo.
"I don't celebrate Kwanzaa, I celebrate regular Christmas," he replied, according to Current TV. Never mind that Kwanzaa is a secular holiday not intended to provide an alternative to Christmas.
In 2010 Sandra Lee, the blonde Food Network host of "Semi-Homemade," baked a "Kwanzaa cake" that had critics pointing out the problems with indiscriminate inclusiveness. Blogger Tami Winfrey Harris wrote:
Are you happy Kwanzaa-celebrating black folks? You have been "included" in a holiday baking segment on a popular cooking show. Never mind that Kwanzaa is not traditionally celebrated with loads of baking and that there is no such thing as a Kwanzaa Cake. Never mind that Kwanzaa was specifically designed to celebrate African American culture and that nothing about this cake, save the red, black and green candles, has anything to do with the traditions of the African diaspora.
One way to avoid embarrassment this holiday season: save "Happy Kwanzaa" for people who actually celebrate it, and leave the Kwanzaa baking to them, too.
- Created on 21 December 2012
AP) — Three Asian carp now call Chicago's Shedd Aquarium home.
Shedd Aquarium debuted the fish on Thursday. Fisheries biologists with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources found the fish in an inland lagoon at Chicago's Humboldt Park in October.
Officials say they're unsure how the invasive species ended up in the lagoon. The carp are now on public display.
Asian carp were imported decades ago to the U.S. They migrated up the Mississippi and Illinois rivers and are poised to invade the Great Lakes, where scientists say they could out-compete native fish for food.
- Created on 24 December 2012
The community is invited to learn about Kwanzaa at the Bronzeville Children's Museum.
In addition to learning about the seven principles of Kwanzaa, this educational session will feature storyteller Oba King, songs and crafts.
The event, free for members and $5.00 per person for non-members, will be held on Wednesday, December 26 from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. at 9301 S. Stony Island Avenue. Call (773) 721-9301 for more information.
- Created on 20 December 2012
Beware: When you fling open the door of Abundance Bakery, the awesome smell of glaze and frosting will force you into confectionary bliss. Step into the small shop and you will find yourself going eenie-meenie-miney-mo with which shall I go? It's all a yes: the glaze donuts, velvet cake, fudge brownies or caramel upsidedown cupcakes. And if that doesn't send you into olfactory overdrive, consider the cookies and other treats.
William "Bill" Ball has been baking to-die-for desserts for decades. His Abundance Bakery, in the heart of the Bronzeville community at 47th Street and Michigan Avenue, is easily missed, sandwiched between two other businesses on the block. But once you find it you never forget - the location or the tasty experience.
Ball got into baking after being laid off from a sales job. He fell back on what he had experienced as a child tugging at his mother's apron in the kitchen: baking.
He created a brand for his products - which are also available in as many as five local restaurants - called Uncle Villy. The name was strategic.
"I didn't want to be 'Uncle Billy,' the confection master explained.
"There is a thousand brands called 'Uncle Billy.'"
The bakery's latest featured item is a cupcake dripping with gooey - delicious - homemade caramel-tasting frosting that he admits his wife came up with. But whoever the creator, it is definitely one of the bakery's must-tries.
Abundance Bakery is in no way short on the things we crave most: butter and sugar.
Ball warns that his "snacks" are not for the dietary faint at heart.
"We try to pay attention to detail," he said. And the proof is in the customers who travel from all over the city and suburbs to get peach cobbler, fritters and other treats.
Ball includes among his customers former Mayor Richard M. Daley. He also crafted birthday cakes for the Obama girls - before they changed their address to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
But he and his wife are a mainstay in community.
"We wanted to have a grassroots business," he said. "And we know everybody here anyway."
It's hardly a secret around parts of town that Abundance Baker is one of the city's top bakeries.
And Ball said there is little secret about his success.
"You gotta make things good, that's all," he said.