Black Ensemble Theater continues the 40th Anniversary Season (The Season of Greatest Hits) with The Jackie Wilson Story, written and directed by Black Ensemble Theater Founder and CEO Jackie Taylor. The Jackie Wilson Story will be performed at the Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N. Clark Street in Chicago, July 30-September 4, 2016. Preview dates for the production are July 30-31 and August 5-6, 2016.

The Jackie Wilson Story returns to Chicago after an extremely successful opening in 2000 and remount in 2011, plus a national tour in 2002, which culminated at the famous Apollo Theater in New York City. This high energy and touching story follows the career of one of the greatest entertainers who ever lived.

The Jackie Wilson Story was first produced in 2000—and again in 2011—and was an immediate smash hit. The highly popular national tour was launched in 2002, and culminated at the famous Apollo Theater in New York City, running a record of the most performances of a stage play at this historical New York City landmark. This high energy and touching production, which chronicles the rise and fall of the admired musician and performer, includes many of Wilson’s hits such as (Your Love Keeps Liftin’ Me) Higher & Higher, To Be Loved, Danny Boy and Doggin’ Me Around. This time the audiences will also be treated to Frankie Lymons’ Goodie Goodie and the Crystals Dah Do Run Run.

The Jackie Wilson Story is one of Black Ensemble’s biggest hits. We have assembled a fantastic team—including the return of Kelvin Roston, Jr. as Jackie Wilson—to remount this story about one of the greatest entertainers who ever lived,” comments Jackie Taylor.

The cast includes: Kelvin Roston, Jr. starring as Jackie Wilson, Melanie McCullough as Freda Wilson, (Jackie’s wife) Kora Green as Eliza (Jackie’s mother) and Rueben D. Echoles as BB (Jackie’s best friend). Cast members playing multiple roles include Kylah Williams, Direoce Junirs, Kyle Smith, Brandon Eddins, Dennis Dent, Ekia Thomas and Vincent Jordan.

As with all Black Ensemble productions, the production features the Black Ensemble Theater Musicians. The Musical Director is Robert Reddrick (drums) and the musicians include Danny O’Connor (bass), Herbert Walker (guitar) Clovise Bordeaux (piano), and Paul Howard(trumpet), Dudley Owens (saxophone) and Bill McFarland (trombone).

The designers are Ruthanne Swanson (costumes), Denise Karczewski (lighting/set), Aaron Quick (sound and projection) and CoCo Ree Lemery (scenic artist). The production stage manager is Lemar Ezell and the Equity stage manager and production manager is Daryl Brooks.Caswell James is the Technical Director.

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), with construction by General Contractor Norcon Inc., is expected in 2016/17.

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.