Written and Directed by Jackie Taylor
Musical Director Robert Reddrick
At Black Ensemble Theatre, Chicago
26 tunes from the Golden Soul Era in Chicago are a toe-tapping treat.
Black Ensemble Theater, under the hyper leadership of Jackie Taylor have re-mounted their Chicago’s Golden Soul (A 60’s Revue) now playing in repertory with The Story of Curtis Mayfield. Golden Soul contains a rich assortment of Chicago style soul featureing the music of jerry Butler, Curtis Mayfield, Gene Chandler, Major Lance, The Impressions, Betty Everett, Barbara Aklin, Etta James and the Chi Lites.
Ths hook here is the influence of the many recording studios located in Chicago during the 50’s – 70’s that contributed to the smooth, mellow Chicago sound that defined ‘soul.’ This Golden soul brought such dances as the twist, the twine, the monkey and the Watusi to popularity.
While I remember about half the songs played, I was amazed how many terrific tunes I didn’t know but the African-American audience sure remembered them!Tunes like “Make It Easy on Yourself,” “Raindrops,” ‘All I Could do Was Cry,” and “Selfish One” were performed by the talented cast, the music from the awesome band carried the show.
Act tow was highlighted by the tribute to the Chi-Lites. Jackie Taylor has found another group of young singers to master the soul tunes. The boys were anchored by the golden baritone from David L. Simmons- a Black Ensemble veteran. he is helped by Rob Love, Brian Nelson. Cecil Jones, Lawrence Williams and Byron Willis. The girls found Alanna Taylor, Katrina Richard, Ta-Tybisa Wilson and Christina D. Harper. These ladies particularly belted their songs with deft aplomb and loads of heart.
Besides a journey back to the 50’s 0 60’swith the unique Chicago Soul hits, I was delighted to discover tunes and artist that i never heard of in this complete historical revue of the Chicago Soul sound. Of course, the atmosphere of energetic playfulness and emotionally riveting music is apparent from the show’s start, the constant high production standards at the Black Ensemble Theater is becoming a “Chicago Standard.” Chicago’s Golden Soul (A 60’s Revue) contains all that manic energy. Seeing a Black Ensemble show is a treat of the highest order. Their style is infectious. You’ll have a good time!
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: February 9, 2014
For more info check the Chicago’s Golden soul page at theatreinchicago.com
At Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N. Clark, Chicago, IL, call 773-769-4451, www.blackensembletheater.org, tickets $55 – $65, Wednesdays, Thursdays at 7:30 pm , Saturdays at 8 pm, running time is 2 hours, 15 minutes with intermission, through March 29, 2014