Thursday, January 10, 2013

ACT OUT CLOSING: The Other Cinderella at Black Ensemble Theatre #ChiILpicks #review #holidaytheatrefavs

Must close January 13



If you haven't seen this show yet, go already!   The Other Cinderella is highly recommended and makes our ChiILpicks list for Holiday Theatre Favorites.  My nine year old daughter, Sage, and I caught opening night of this rockin' remake of the fairytale classic and were blown away by the talented cast and creative script.  

Sage is all about grrrrl power and has a low tolerance for the typical Cinderella fairy tale genre, so we happily skipped the more traditional Emerald City Cinderella for The Other Cinderella this year.   Sage found great role models in tiny but mighty Alyssa Zopp (Peanut Butter), a girl from the hood who's "one of the boys", and in Ta-Tynisa Wilson's entirely endearing Cinderella portrayal. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the impressive talent of the vocalists, and the soul, Motown vibe of the musical numbers was a welcome break from more traditional, seasonal musical fare.  Sage did grumble that there were too many songs and not enough dialogue, but she's not a huge fan of musicals, to begin with.  Otherwise she was quite enthusiastic about recommending the show.   There's a bit of mellowly mature language, but overall, this is a great, family friendly piece with hilarious characters and and excellent message of empowerment, made modern, yet retaining fun fairy tale elements.   

We sincerely hope The Other Cinderella continues to make a reappearance as a holiday classic for years to come.   The Other Cinderella has returned every other year since 1976.   Sure, the famous coach driver has changed over the years, and cell phones and other updated trappings have appeared and become woven into the ever evolving and changing piece.    But the core message remains as timely and relevant as it was 26 years ago. 

The Other Cinderella

Written & directed by:    Black Ensemble Theater Founder and CEO Jackie Taylor
Choreographer:             Rueben Echoles
Musical Director:           Robert Reddrick
Dates:                          November 23 – January 13, 2012 
Location:                      Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N. Clark Street.
Ticket prices:                $55 - $65
Box Office:                   Buy online at or call (773) 769-4451

The most successful of all of the Black Ensemble Theater productions, The Other Cinderella returns every other year since 1976.  It is now a Black Ensemble classic that always features some new twist, turns, and surprises.  The Other Cinderella joyously retells the familiar fairy tale with an Afro-centric twist.  There’s a “Stepmama” who works at the post office, two stepsisters who “don’t do nuthin’,” the brothers are from the ‘hood, Cinderella was born in the projects and the “fairy Godmama” is from Jamaica.  Just as in the “traditional” Cinderella, there is a King, a Queen, and a Prince, but in this kingdom, everybody has soul.  

The Other Cinderella is appropriate for all ages, featuring original music, exciting dances and a heartwarming story that reminds audiences of the greatness of the human spirit.

The mission of the Black Ensemble Theater Company is to eradicate racism and its devastating effects upon society through the theater arts. For more information on the Black Ensemble Theater Company, please visit or call 773-769-4451.

“We are thrilled to bring back our bi-annual hit The Other Cinderella,” says Jackie Taylor. “It’s amazing to witness the many generations that keep returning year after year. The audience is a rainbow of colors, cultures and ages which testifies to how The Other Cinderella delivers a message of love, hope and the importance of believing in yourself that really speaks to the masses.” As with every production there is always something new and exciting coming from the Kingdom of Other.

As with all Black Ensemble Theater productions, Robert Reddrick will serve as musical director charged with making the beautiful original music written by Jackie Taylor and Michael Ward an unforgettable and transformational experience. The Black Ensemble Musicians include Robert Reddrick on drums, Tracy Baker on bass, Herbert Walker on guitar, and Mark Moultrup and Andrea Moore on piano.

The cast includes: Ta-Tynisa Wilson (Cinderella), A’rese Emokpae (The Fairy God Mama), Dawn Bless (Stepmama), Lisa Beasley (Margarite), Jessica Moore (Geneva), Dwight Neal (King), Rhonda Preston (Queen), Lawrence Williams (Prince), Raymond Wise (Page), David Simmons (Attendant), Mandy Lewis (Lady in Waiting), Brandon Holmes (Ground Hog), Alyssa Zopp (Peanut Butter), Malcolm Thompson (Pee Wee) Rueben Echoles (A.B.) and Erin O’Shea (Dorothy.)
The outstanding production team tasked with making this the most magical of all The Other Cinderella’s in the past 35 years includes Dave Ferguson (Set Design), June Saito (Costumes), Denise Karczewski (Lights), Rueben Echoles (Choreography and Wigs), and Sarah Helt (Props). Bekki Lambrecht is the Technical Director, Emily Wall is the production stage manager and Vickie Spires is the company Equity stage manager.

Black Ensemble Theater's world premiere production of
will be featured during Chicago Theater Week.
From Doo Wop to Hip Hop
Written by Jackie Taylor and Rueben Echoles
Directed by Jackie Taylor
February 7, 2013-March 31, 2013
Opening: Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 3:00 p.m.

This melodic look at the Doo Wop era celebrates such iconic groups as The Platters, The Drifters and the Chantels (just to name a few). Since it first premiered in 1995 it has had several revivals because it is indeed a Black Ensemble Theater Treasure. You can't help but snap your fingers to the beat as we take a stroll down memory lane hearing those beautiful songs like Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, This Magic Moment and Maybe while exploring how the successful music of today is related to the magical era of Doo Wop. With the emphasis on Doo Wop music this is a production that brings the '50s into the 21st Century.

Chicago Theater Week

The Black Ensemble Theater
Founded in 1976, by the phenomenal producer, playwright and actress Jackie Taylor, Black Ensemble Theater is the only African American theater located in the culturally, racially and ethnically diverse north side Uptown community. Through its Five Play Season of Excellence, The Black Ensemble Theater dazzles audiences locally, nationally and internationally with outstanding original musicals that are entertaining, educational and uplifting. The Black Ensemble Theater has produced more than 100 productions and employed over 5,000 artists.

On November 18, 2011, The Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center opened and is able to accommodate larger-scale productions, bigger audiences and a wider range of educational programming. The new facility includes amenities such as a 299-seat main stage theater (double the capacity of the original venue); 14 offices, classroom space; rehearsal hall, dance studio, scene shop, costume shop, and wardrobe rooms; seven dressing rooms; rehearsal room for musicians; front lobby space with concession areas; and an indoor parking garage. The completion of a 150-seat theater, which will serve as an experimental stage for the work of the Black Playwright Initiative (BPI), is expected in 2013

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