Music ReviewsMUST SEEPop/Rock/FolkREVIEWSREVIEWS BYTom Williams

Men of Soul

with A Tribute to Bill Witherssoul logo

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


Besides the aforementioned tunes, we hear other hits like: “You Should Be Mine,”  “Stop To Love,”  “One Hundred Ways,” “Feel the Fire,” “On The Wings of Love,” “Caribbean Queen,” “If You Think You’re Lonely Now,” “Night Time Is The Right Time,” “Benny and the Jets,” “I Wanna Be Your Man,” “Endless Love.”
This fast-paced revue moves so quickly that it almost becomes nostalgic overload! The music and the voices are terrific, as the atmosphere is very much like an all-star concert. This is a wonderfully entertaining tribute to the soul artists. It will quickly become one of the Black Ensemble Theater’s classic productions. Don’t miss this fantastic show!
Highly Recommended
Tom Williams
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: July 12, 2015
For more info check the Men of soul page at
At Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N. Clark, Chicago, IL, call 773-769-4451,, tickets $55 -$65, Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 3 & 8 pm, Sundays at 3pm, running time is 2 hours, 30 minutes with intermission, through August 31, 2015