Mary Wilson & The Four Tops Reign Supreme
Music is the art form, more than any other, that culturally defines us. Watching the legendary Supreme, Mary Wilson perform with the Four Tops in what is billed as a “holiday spectacular” only reminds us of the significance and impact Motown has had our own cultural evolution.
It is a rare privilege to see these two hallmarks perform at levels artists half their age could only aspire to. I’m sure we have the success of Motown The Musical to thank for this reunion, as the Broadway show has reignited the power of these 60’s icon’s whose songs are woven brilliantly into our American tapestry.
The evening begins with The Four Tops, with only surviving member Duke Fakir firmly at the helm. The remaining three (Lawrence “Roquel” Payton, Jr. Ronnie McNeir and Harold “Spike” Bonhart) are either descendants or close friends of the original Tops, whose legacy are firmly embedded in each song they perform. “Baby, I Need Your Loving”, “I Can’t help Myself”, “Ain’t No Woman (Like The One I Got) and “Burnadette”, had the capacity crowd at Harris Theatre on their feet from the moment the orchestra played their first downbeat. And to that end, the sound was mixed perfectly, which is not an easy task at this particular theater.
After a non-stop thirty minute set, the diva-licous Mary Wilson, in one of the most stunning gowns I have ever seen, made her entrance; and every problem in the world just seemed to have melted away. A commanding presence, with an alto belt that can shake the rafters, Ms. Wilson and her back-up quartet, launched into the songbook that has been, and I”m sure will be unequaled in many a lifetime. How is this for a hit list? “Come See About Me”, “You Can’t Hurry Love”, “Someday, We’ll Be Together” (a song Ms. Wilson dedicates to her Supreme sisters), “I Hear a Symphony” and “Back In Your Arms Again”.
Mr. Fakir and Ms. Wilson do a charming duet of “Baby, Its Cold Outside” and then launch into some great holiday standards. The evening doesn’t stop there, as throughout the run of the show, different area choirs get to take the stage, filling the theatre with a glorious sound that must be heard live to be appreciated. (for the opening night it as Walt Whitman’s Soul Children of Chicago).
And then it happens! The lights dim and from the center stage shadows, up comes Ms. Wilson who delivers the definitive version of Dreamgirls “I Am Changing”. Goosebumps and tears, thats all I can say.
Mary Wilson’s Holiday Spectacular Featuring Special Guests The Four Tops is one of those rare evenings that you just don’t want to end. Fortunately, the show is here for another two weeks (to Jan. 5th), so I will definitely be back to see these superstars relive a time when the art of music triumphed and bridged a cultural divide. Everyone who has children and grandchildren should bring them along as Mary Wilson along with The Four Tops and their profound success are a teachable moment for all generations to learn from.
Mary Wilson’s Holiday Spectacular Featuring Special Guests The Four Tops runs through January 5, 2014 at the Harris Theater (205 E. Randolph St.). Tickets can be purchased by visiting Ticketmaster.com, HarrisTheaterChicago.org, by calling 312.334.2419 or at the Harris Theater Box Office. For more information visit marywilsonandthefourtops.com. For calendar information visit TheatreInChicago.com