‘Jackie and Me’ a Black History Month theater production for youngsters

Derrick Sanders, Jeff Award winner and founding artistic director of Chicago’s Congo Square Theatre Co., directs Chicago Children’s Theatre’s world premiere of Jackie and Me, a fresh, new theatrical offering for Black History Month.

Derrick Sanders, Jeff Award winner and founding artistic director of Chicago’s Congo Square Theatre Co., directs Chicago Children’s Theatre’s world premiere of Jackie and Me, a fresh, new theatrical offering for Black History Month. Sanders also has a national reputation, having directed at countless Chicago, regional and New York theaters. Babe Ruth changed baseball, Jackie Robinson changed America. The awe-inspiring story of the courageous athlete who broke baseball’s color barrier will be brought to life on stage when CCT premieres the time-traveling adventure by acclaimed playwright Steven Dietz, based on the popular children’s novel by Dan Gutman.

Performances: Feb. 8-March 27 at Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn. Tickets, $25 for children (ages 17 and under) and $35 for adults, will be available at www.chicagochildrenstheatre.org, or the ticket hotline, (866) 811-4111. Discounted group rates are available at GroupTix; call (773) 327-3778 or visit www.GroupTix.net. Previews: Feb. 8-11. Jackie and Me is recommended for children ages 8 and older.

In Jackie and Me, Joey is a headstrong young boy with a special talent for time travel. When he’s assigned to write a report on an African American who has made an important contribution to society, he uses his special ability to go back to New York City in 1947 to meet one of history’s greatest baseball players. Joey plans to write a prize-winning report but doesn’t plan on a trip that will forever change his view of history and his definition of courage.

Kamal Angelo Bolden, who plays the title role, is a Peoria, Ill. native, a grad of Bradley Univ. and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity with multiple national championships from Bradley’s speech team. He acts in regional theater, commercials and independent films. Other cast members: Tyler Ross as Joey Stoshack, Tracey Bonner (Rachel Robinson), Patrick De Nicola (Ant), Ron Rains (Dad), Vanessa Greenway (Mom), Sean Cooper (Flip) and Charles Stransky (Branch Rickey).

Until 1947, only white players were accepted in the major leagues, but on April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson was called up to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers and became the first Black to play in baseball’s major leagues in the modern era. Robinson, mainly a second baseman, though he also played at first and third, was named Rookie of the Year for 1947 and went on to appear in six World Series in 10 seasons with the Dodgers (1947-56). Other major league teams soon followed Brooklyn’s lead and hired Black players of their own. Robinson‘s stellar play and his role in breaking the color barrier, led to his 1962 induction as the first African American in baseball’s Hall of Fame. In 1997, on the 50th anniversary of Robinson’s first year with the Dodgers, Major League Baseball permanently retired Robinson‘s uniform #42. He’s the only baseball player ever to have been so honored.

To enhance the experience of seeing Jackie and Me, particularly as part of Black History Month studies, CCT will post a companion study guide for use in the classroom or even at home with games, activities and exercises designed to help spark frank discussion on the subject of race in America. Visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org to download free supplemental educational activities. Through a Target Corp. grant, CCT is implementing a new field trip program during specific performances that will include free admission, study materials and transportation. The program will accommodate some 6,000 students.

In Memoriam – Across the country sorors of Delta Sigma Theta, the nation’s largest public service Greek-letter organization for African American women, are mourning the passing of Dorothy Penman Harrison, 103, their beloved 11th national president and former national treasurer, who was memorialized Tuesday at Sixth Grace United Presbyterian Church. She died Dec. 23 in Flossmoor, Ill. after a brief illness. Mrs. Harrison, an educator, was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. G. Lamar Harrison, president of Langston Univ. (in Oklahoma), and two sons. She graduated with a degree in education from Ohio State University where she joined DST.

In 2008 the Defender ran a photo feature of Mrs. Harrison’s centennial (100th) birthday celebration, a lovely and lavish tribute hosted by Delta’s Chicago Alumnae Chapter and spearheaded by LaVerne Weatherly, chapter president, at D’Estee House. In attendance, along with family and friends, were some 200 Deltas, including the current and past national presidents, members of the national executive committee, the Midwest Region Leadership Team and Deltas from throughout the region. In memory of Mrs. Harrison, I have run all nine of the photographs from 2008 on Facebook, the social network site. I hope you will take the time to look at them.

With Honors ¡ Congrats to Roger F. Salter, successful Chicago businessman and entrepreneurial trailblazer, who was saluted by Chicago State Univ. with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters during the December commencement. There were 600 graduates receiving degrees during the ceremony, but Salter, chair and CEO of Sanmar Financial Network, which is headquartered in the West Loop, was the sole honorary degree recipient. His company’s clientele includes many of our town’s “who’s who” in business, entertainment, sports, law, medicine, et al.

Founded in1974, Sanmar is a unique financial brand that was among the first to embrace comprehensive financial planning for clients. Today the network of certified financial planners, accountants, stockbrokers and lawyers provide advice, consultation and management services on taxes, insurance, retirement planning, accounting, mutual funds, pension plans and legal services. During his career, Salter has been honored with numerous professional and community awards in recognition of his many contributions.

He is a member of Top of the Table of the international Million-Dollar Round Table, received Black United Fund of Illinois’ Living Legends/Passing the Torch Award, N’Digo Foundation’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award and DuSable High School’s Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award. Salter studied at Chicago State and gradated from College for Financial Planning as a certified financial planner and from American College with a chartered life underwriter designation.

Newsy Names ¡Happy b’day to radio icon Richard Steele, who celebrates Friday, 6 p.m., at Taste Entertainment Center,
6331 S. Lowe, (with a “live” tribute to Teena Marie)
; Stephanie L. Green, Cheryl Pearson McNeil, Don Jackson, Judge Arnette Hubbard, Betty Clawson, Robin Rice-Foster, Lisa Finch, Daniel L. Parker, Larry Whitman, Denise Mathews, Damon Williams, Armstead Allen, Barbara Holt, Kim Coles Hearty “halleleuyers” and “way to go” wishes to Ethel Nelson-Greer, 76, a mom of 10 who received a B.S. degree in psychology from Chicago State University during last month’s commencement ceremony. The Cook County hospital retiree is a St. John Church Baptist parishioner … Birthday girl Betty R. Clawson, head honcho of Dudley Beauty College Chicago, 8501 S. Green, celebrates her “special day” Tuesday when her non-profit BRC Scholarship Foundation Inc. invites her friends and colleagues to enjoy an afternoon of relaxing services. Costs of manicures, pedicures, facials, body wraps, shampoos and stylings will be donated to the foundation “to help create future entrepreneurs.” To RSVP, call Deborah Williams, (773) 910-8122 or email BRCScholarship@hotmail.com.

Copyright 2011 Chicago Defender

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