Theatre ReviewsTom Williams

The Message Is In The Music (Good is a Black Man Named Ricky)

Written, Produced and Directed by Jackie Taylor

The Message is in the Music

Music Direction by Robert Reddrick

At Black Ensemble Theater

Quasi-spiritual uplifts and roars with strong tunes

“This is My house & In my house everybody comes to the party.” Ricky, aka God

Leave it to Jackie Taylor to come up with a quasi-religious theme to show case terrific gospel, R & B, blues, and smooth ballads tunes from the likes of The Temptations, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, The Isley Brothers, Paul Simon and Curtis Mayfield. This is a morality jukebox musical that pits the white dressed God (Rick Stone), Trinity(Trinity P. Murdock) and the Angel Faith (Rhonda Preston) and Angel Trust (Dawn Bless) and God’s lady–She (France Jean-Baptiste) against the red dressed Lucifer (Donald Barnes) and his followers–Demon Dwight (Michael T. Barlett, Jr.), Demon Doubt (Carrie), Demon Fear (Kylah Frye).

Rick Stone

The forces of good versus evil are  played out in song and short quips. There are some funny moments here but as in all Black Ensemble shows–the music and the singing dominate. The show features many Curtis Mayfield tunes beginning with the happy “It’s All-Right” followed by several soulful and gospel tunes such as “You haven’t Done Nothing,” “Imagine” bu John Lennon and “Love Me Like A Rock’ by Paul Simon performed in a gospel-be-bop style.

Trinity Murdock with the alleluia angels

Act one pits tunes from Lucifer and his demons against the smooth and lovely songs of hope and faith by Trinity, God and the angels. He (God) and She (Rick Stone and France Jean-Baptiste) nicely deliver McCartney’s anthem “Let It Be.”

Kyla Frye, Donald Barnes & Carrie Abernathy

Act two starts with the evils ones doing–what else? “Devil in Disguise” as a smart up-tempo dance tune. He (God) renders a smooth ballad “I’m So Proud” another Mayfield song. Next Trinity and the Angels do a three song medley of stirring gospel songs including “Without Love.”  The demons are converted as they feel good in the haunting “I Feel Love.” He and She move us deeply with their version of Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Lucifer fights back with a strongly emotional “Fight the Power.” The hopeful winning by the forces of good triumph as the company celebrates with “My First, MY Last, My Everything.” This is a toe-tapping feel good show with an audacious, non-religious, morality fable that enlightens our spirit. We leave this show uplifted and musically satisfied. Jackie Taylor’s sure finds “The Message in the Music.” You’ll have fun at Black Ensemble, as always. The voices here are heavenly.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

At Black Ensemble theater, 4520 N. Beacon, chicago, IL, call 773-769-4451,, tickets $45 with discounts for seniors/students, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 2 hours, 20 minutes with intermission, through an open run

One thought on “The Message Is In The Music (Good is a Black Man Named Ricky)

  • Barbara Abernathy

    The Message Is In the Music is a good play, lots of fun an clean enjoyment. This is what we need plenty of in today’s society. The band looks wonderful in their cream sitting in the clouds. The wardrobe is pleasing to the eye and the choreography is great. No need to say the music is a great selection. If people listen, they will get it…The message is really in the music. You don’t need a terrific script if you just listen.

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