Black Ensemble’s 2018 season

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Jackie Taylor, the founder and CEO of the Black Ensemble Theater (BET), has affixed the umbrella title of “Movers and Shakers” to her company’s 2018 season, and that seems like ideal shorthand for a lineup of five shows that will pay tribute to the likes of Chuck Berry and Patti LaBelle, celebrate the blues (by way of Muddy Waters, B.B. King and others), consider the impact of hip hop music and toast “women of soul.”

The five-show season, performed at BET’s home at 4450 N. Clark Street, will include:

+ “Hail, Hail Chuck: A Tribute to Chuck Berry” (Feb. 17 – April 1, 2018), written by L. Maceo Ferris, directed by Daryl Brooks, and featuring such rock and roll classics as “Maybellene,” “Roll Over Beethoven” and “Johnnie B. Goode.”

+ “A New Attitude: In Tribute to Patti LaBelle” (May 5 – June 17, 2018), written and directed by Rueben D. Echoles, a celebration of “the ultimate diva.”

+ “A Tribute to the Blues: From Muddy to BB” (July 14 – Aug. 26, 2018), written and directed by Jackie Taylor and starring Rick Stone and Theo Huff. Described as “a fun-filled bluesical featuring the music of some of the greatest blues artists of all time,” the show will include the music of Muddy Waters, Howlin‘ Wolf, Koko Taylor, B.B. King and more.

+ “Hip Hop Revolution” (Sept. 29 – Nov. 4, 2018), written and directed by Rueben Echoles and Daryl Brooks, the show will trace hip hop through several decades and look at how it has altered the music industry. It will feature music by such artists as Biz Markie, Doug E. Fresh, Public Enemy, Lauren Hill, Biggie, and Tupac.

+ “Women of Soul” (Dec. 8, 2018 – Jan. 27, 2019), written and directed by Daryl Brooks, a popular revue that explores the struggles and triumphs of such artists as Chaka Khan, Sade, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Tina Marie and Whitney Houston.

Other events during the season will include the BPI Black Playwrights Festival (Jan. 23-25, 2018), a weekend of readings of new scripts; the Sex In The Summer Series (dates tba), featuring new works by members of the BPI focusing on the subject of sex; the Black Ensemble Theater Gala (Oct. 12, 2018 at the Swissotel Chicago), and the Annual Black Ensemble New Year’s Eve Show (Dec. 31, 2018).

For tickets call (773) 769-4451 or visit

Meanwhile, a reminder: The current season at BET will close with “Sammy: The Sammy Davis, Jr. Story,” running Dec. 9, 2017 – Jan. 21, 2018.

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