A World Premiere.
Written & Directed by Rueben D. Echoles.
At the Black Ensemble Theater, Chicago.
Toe-tapping bio-musical features two terrific dancers channeling The Nicholas Brothers.
Kudos to Rueben D. Echoles for creating such a wonderful, groundbreaking. bio-musical!. As the book writer, director and one of two outstanding actor/dancers (he plays Harold Nicholas) Echoles’ has created one of the best shows ever at the Black Ensemble Theater. Besides writing, directing, costumes, choreography, he wrote eight original songs that were fine show-specific tunes. Add Echolas’ terrific dancing and this show is truly Echoles’ opus!.
I have been a longtime fan of the Nicholas Brothers and I have a collection of many of their movie dance numbers and I have watched the Youtube documentary about the brothers. I was impressed at Echoles’ authentic rendition of the legendary brothers who were known as the finest duo dancers ever!
The phenomenal story is told by the woman who knew them best. We hear swing, jazz and bebop music played by the Black Ensemble orchestra with musical direction by Robert Reddrick. We see nice turns by Vincent Jordan as Cab Calloway), Taylah Thomas as Dorthy Dandright who together with the awesome acting/dancing from Rashawn Thompson as Fayard Nicholas combine with Rueban D. Echolas’ outstanding acting.dancing make for a rousing high energy bio-musical. I can’t remember seeing an artist wear so many hats in a production and deliver each with the creative skill that Echoles did!
We see Echoles and Thompson dance in the style of the Nicholas Brothers including their smooth steps, those superb hand movements and their athletic moves including their jumps and endless splits. Echoles and Thompson danced so authentically that it seemed they were channeling the Nicholas Brothers!
We hear tune such as “Jumpin’ Jive, ” “Swing Low Sweet Cheriot, ” “Take the A Train,” “Chattanooga Choo Choo, ” “Sing, Sing, Sing, ” “I’ve Got Rhythm, ” and “From This Movement On.” from the 1930-40’s.
The dancing and the truthful story of the Nicholas Brothers came across as a worthy musical event about two fabulous entertainers who broke many racial barriers as they became one of the most successful Black acts in films, musicals and stage. The Black Ensemble’s production values here are first-class. The voices, the acting and, of course the dancing, all contributed to a superb musical. My Brothers Keeper – The Story of the Nicholas Brothers my be one of the best shows ever at the Black Ensemble? It certainly is their “best’ dance show! Rueben D. Echoles demonstrated his multi-talents with this fabulous show.
Date Reviewed: February 19, 2017.
For more info checkout My Brothers Keeper – The Story of the Nicholas Brothers page at theatreinchicago.com.
At the Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N. Clark, Chicago, IL, call773-769-4451, www.blackensemble.org, tickets $55 – $65 with senior discounts, students and groups, Thursdays at 7;30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 3 & 8 pm, Sundays at 3pm, running time is 2 hours, 20 unites with intermission, through march 26, 2017.