The Marvin Gaye Story at Black Ensemble Theater, June 12 – July 10, 2016

Black Ensemble Theater Founder and CEO Jackie Taylor continues the 40th Anniversary Season (The Season of Greatest Hits) with The Marvin Gaye Story (Don’t Talk About My Father Because God Is My Friend), written by Jackie Taylor and directed by Daryl D. Brooks. The Marvin Gaye Story (Don’t Talk About My Father Because God Is My Friend) will be performed at the Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N. Clark Street in Chicago, June 12 – July 10, 2016. Preview dates for the production are June 4, 5, 10 and 11.

Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr, otherwise known as Marvin Gaye, was known for his deeply soulful music and his phenomenal success in the music industry. The Marvin Gaye Story brings back the spirit of the “Prince of Soul” with a musical journey of the legendary man behind the music.

Marvin Pentz Gaye Jr. is considered to be one of the greatest talents to come out of the Motown dynasty, with a career spanning over three decades. His sound began with Doo Wop in the ‘50s, and moved to Rhythm and Blues in the ‘60s, political awareness in the ‘70s, and sophisticated soul in the ‘80s. Some of his greatest contributions include “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” “What’s Going On,” and “Inner City Blues,” as well as numerous hits from his partnership with Tammi Terrel such as “All I Need To Get By,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” and “If This World Were Mine.” He was also the winner of two Grammy Awards including Best Vocal Performance for “Sexual Healing” in 1983.

Marvin Gaye’s life was plagued with depression and drug addiction and ended in tragedy on April 1, 1984 when he was shot and killed by his father. The Marvin Gaye Story will reveal his struggles while also honoring his vast contributions to the music industry and the world. To many, Marvin Gaye represents the ability to face the worst of life’s adversities and still accomplish great success. This Black Ensemble Theater production will embrace this sentiment and celebrate a legacy of beautiful music that will last forever.

The Marvin Gaye Story was the first World Premiere produced at the new Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, which opened in 2011. When first developing this show, I conducted extensive research, which included working with Jan Gaye (who was the second wife of Marvin Gaye and mother of Nona and Frankie Gaye) who helped me give attention to his story with honor and accuracy,” says Jackie Taylor. “We have assembled a fantastic team of cast and designers, including Rashawn Thompson, one of Black Ensemble’s regular performers and a product of BE’s educational outreach program, along with some of BE’s seasoned ensemble.”


The cast includes: Rashawn Thompson (Marvin Gaye), Yahdina Udeen (Alberta Gaye), TBA (Marvin Gaye Sr.), Rueben Echoles (Barry Gordy), Kevin Patterson (Frankie Gaye), Melanie McCullough (Tammi Terrell/Jan Gaye), Trequon Tate (Harvey Fuqua), Kyle Smith (Ensemble), Dennis Dent (Ensemble), Dawn Bless (Ensemble) , Katrina Richard (Ensemble) , Renelle Nichole (Ensemble) and Brandon LaVell (Ensemble.)

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 Mark Miller (bass), Gary Baker (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 Bekki Lembrecht 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.