Director of famous gospel choir to hold auditions following Sunday’s performance! Plus, theater treats community to $1 movies at 10 a.m.


Chicago – Chatham 14 Theaters is planning an explosive, weeklong Back-to-School bonanza, featuring an unforgettable free concert by Grammy Award-winning gospel singing group Soul Children of Chicago led by music great Walt Whitman.  The theater also will host the first-ever public viewings of the group’s stirring new movie, “Soul Stories.” 

Plus, every day from Aug. 18 through Aug. 22 at 10 a.m., the theater, which is located at 210 West 87th Street on Chicago’s South Side, will treat customers to $1 screenings of four of Hollywood’s most popular films – “42: The Jackie Robinson Story,” “Lean on Me,” “Ice Age 4,” and “The Express:  The Ernie Davis Story.”  All four movies will be screened simultaneously beginning at 10 a.m.

The most memorable event of the Back-to-School week at Chatham 14 Theaters is sure to be the Soul Children of Chicago’s free concert beginning at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 18.  “Soul Stories” is a three-part biopic that examines the difficult lives of three of the choir’s singers, each of whom portray their own stories.

Totaling approximately one hour, the movie will be shown also for free at 5 p.m. Sunday and again at 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22. The cast of the movie and Whitman, the executive producer, will participate in a question and answer session immediately following the Thursday viewing.

Aspiring gospel singers are advised to sharpen their own vocal skills because following the Sunday performance, children between the ages of 7 and 16 will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to audition for the choir on-site at the theater.  Whitman is hoping to add a tenor and a soloist and will provide scholarships for the new members to train with the choir.  A Thursday audition is tentative.

Whitman said recently that he chose to donate the performance of his internationally-famous youth gospel choir, the screenings and other activities to the Chatham community as a way to give back to  some of his most loyal supporters.

“This is our way of connecting to the Chicago community, to present role models and talent that other children can hope to emulate,” stated Whitman, who also stars in the film.  “We’ve traveled all over the world as role models, including to Washington for the second inauguration of President Obama, now we want to do our part and present positive examples in our own city.”

Whitman said that approximately half of the choir’s 60 members will attend the performance and film activities. 

The Soul Children of Chicago appearances are being facilitated by Senior Pastor Ezekiel Taylor, whose Empowering with Wisdom Ministries holds its Sunday services at Chatham 14 Theaters.  Taylor explained that, as an active partner of the theater, he wanted to assist in bringing a host of fun, interesting and helpful events to the theater that would enhance the final days of summer for both students and parents.

 Taylor, a Chicago firefighter and EMT, will present information Sunday about fire safety and encourage youth in the areas of non-violence.  He also will bring a fire truck to the location for exploration by participants.  Medical experts will be in attendance to screen adults for high blood pressure.

 “This is our effort to reach out to the community, empower them with the wisdom and understanding of the true issues we are facing, and let them know that there are people who actually care,” said Taylor.

Additional Exciting Back-to-School Activities at Chatham 14 Theaters

The Soul Children of Chicago events and $1 movies are just some of the high points of the Back-to-School celebration at Chatham 14 Theaters.  Venisha White-Johnson, director of operations and community relations for the recently technologically enhanced movie house (Sony 4K projectors), explained that the activities represent the theater’s long-standing mission of reciprocating the loyalty offered by its customers. “Why come to a theater that doesn’t give anything back?” asked White-Johnson.  “We give it back.”

Also at Chatham 14 Theaters starting this weekend:

Saturday, Aug. 17

“Jim Kelly Takeover Day at Chatham 14 Theaters.”  In honor of the late actor Jim Kelly, the 1970s icon who helped define an era of martial arts cinema, Chatham 14 Theaters is teaming with Black World Cinema, the Chicago Cinema Society and South Side Projections to present a day-long celebration of Kelly’s life and films.

Activities will include a screening of Kelly’s “Enter the Dragon,” as well as his film classic “Black Belt Jones.”  The short film, “South Side Warriors,” which explores the martial arts tradition on Chicago’s South Side, also is being shown that day.  And as a special treat for the more youthful martial arts fans, a special screening of “The Karate Kid” starring Jaden Smith will kick off the celebration.  

Also on Saturday, Ne-Ke’s Theatre Company, a Venita “Queen” Abrams Production, will present a Back-to-School Love Fest with food, games, family fun, dancing, poetry competition and entertainment by some of Chicago’s finest young artists.

Sunday, Aug. 18:        

Taylor’s Empowering with Wisdom Ministries will hold its regular Sunday church service at 10:45 a.m.  The Soul Children of Chicago gospel choir under the direction of Walt Whitman will perform at 3:30 p.m., followed by an on-site audition for children ages seven to 16.  The first public screening of “Soul Stories” will begin at 5 p.m. 

 Theater managers are also hoping that what’s good for the soul is good for the body as they incorporate health and wellness into the day’s activities.  A firefighter and EMT, Taylor will present information on fire safety, and technicians will be on-site to administer blood pressure tests. 

Monday, Aug. 19:       

This day will feature story time and face painting. 

Tuesday, Aug. 20:      

The DuSable Museum’s Mobile Museum will be on-site.  Face painting for the artistic and adventurous will continue.

Wednesday, Aug. 21:

A petting zoo with the most adorable animals will be the main attraction!  Face painting will continue.

Thursday, Aug. 22:    

The Soul Children of Chicago youth gospel choir returns for a second screening of “Soul Stories,” and participates in a Q&A.  There also will be a reading of youth poetry.

Plus, Whitman will lead a discussion entitled “Stop the Violence.” The summit will include information on helping kids to get out of stressful situations and other important topics.

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