Written and directed by Daryl Brooks
At Black Ensemble Theater, Chicago
Fantastic nostalgic revue of men of soul-both black and white-is a thrilling show!
Black Ensemble Theater presents one of their finest shows ever with the world premiere of Men Of Soul! Writer/director Daryl D. Brooks, with the aid of stunning large video backdrops and a kick-ass band (lead by Robert Reddrick), takes us back to revisit the greatest men of soul-both black and white, using several narrators to speak to the struggles the singers faced–against drugs or depression, segregation, stupid music producers, low self esteem, and the need to re-invent themselves fueled some toward stardom.
But the real stars here are the music and the singing that finds Brooks’ cast channeling their characters. From Kevin Pollack’s deeply emotional tribute to Joe Cocker’s “With a Little Help from My Friends,” to Kyle Smith’s’ electric re-enactment of Prince’s “Purple Rain,” this cast leaves us thrilled as we are taken back to those fantastic artists doing their thing. This is a tour-de-force ensemble show that thoroughly satisfies. Moving from white soul artists like Joe Cocker, Billy Joel, and Elton John to the greats of black soul such as Ray Charles, Lionel Richie, and Bill Withers, this production certainly does justice to “men of soul.”
We go on a fascinating journey featuring the music made famous by some of the greatest soul singers of all time, including Peabo Bryson, Joe Cocker, Billy Ocean, Billy Joel, Luther Vandross, Tom Jones, Lionel Richie, Ray Charles, Prince, James Ingram, Freddie Jackson, James Brown, Elton John, and the incomparable Bill Withers