Home

Just after the show’s beginning, Jackie Taylor asks the crowd what the world needs. In unison, many voices shout back, “Love!”. And when do we need it? “Now!” Love is the theme in Black Ensemble’s latest production, From Jackie with Love (What the World Needs Now), a three-day engagement that centers around loving one another and putting away with senseless violence and racism. Wasting no time getting to the point, Taylor begins the program with an inspired version of the self-explanatory titled “No Matter What Race”, a song that sets the tone for what is to follow. 

For those unfamiliar with Jackie Taylor and her contributions to the Chicago Theatre community, she is the Founder and Executive Director of the Black Ensemble Theater, producing, writing and directing in nearly all its presentations. Prior to her work with Black Ensemble, Taylor, a theatre grad from Loyola University, made her mark on the Chicago stage where she performed at many venues including The Goodman Theater and Victory Gardens Theater. The talented actress also made her presence known in film and television as she was featured in 1976’s Cooley High and later appeared in Barber Shop II, Losing Isiah, Chiraq, Early Edition and The Father Clements Story among several others. 

From Jackie with Love is a production from the heart. Backed up by Black Ensemble’s accomplished band featuring Musical Director Robert Reddrick on drums, Taylors swoops into a collection of songs that are sure to pull the heartstrings of most, each written by hers truly. Throughout the show, Taylor breaks from music giving the audience a peek at her personal life be it by short stories or in the performance of monologues that were meaningful to her from such as A Raisin in the Sun, a play she declares as her “favorite of all time” written by Lorraine Hansberry.

Taylor reminisces about her time as a teacher in the Chicago Public School system, her childhood while living in Cabrini Green and growing up thinking her mother did not love her. She talks passionately about her persistence in moving forward with Black Ensemble even when its outcome seemed bleakest. 

“I am fortunate enough to have spent my life teaching in Chicago Public Schools, at colleges like Loyola University and Roosevelt University and in numerous, numerous programs as an artist teacher,” says Taylor. “Along the way, I created Black Ensemble Theater, raised a wonderfully intelligent daughter and now have the best grandson in the whole wide world.”

Taylor is accompanied on stage by Black Ensemble veterans Rhonda Preston, David Simmons and Yahdinah Udeen who serve as back up vocalists for Taylor and offer friendly banter back and forth. Each is showcased in their own featured number, Preston stunning the crowd with a vocal demonstration for the books in “A Mother’s Love” and Udeen performing an emotionally-charged rendition of “Mother’s Lament”, a moving song that Taylor could write a play about on its own. Simmons closes the second of three sets with the lively number “Happy Ending”. Each are again brought to the forefront towards the end of the show in a piece that has each one, including Taylor, breaking out dance moves.  

All songs performed in From Jackie with Love are written by Jackie Taylor, a couple borrowed from past Black Ensemble productions. As Simmons states about the production, “The show is called From Jackie with Love because it really is from Jackie – all of it – and with tons of love.”

It’s easy to see Taylor’s high level of comfort on stage whether it be singing, dancing, acting, interacting with the audience or even playing guitar – the same one her mother bought for her as a child. The stage is her playground, but more so a tool to bring people together. 

“Through the hundreds of plays that I have produced, written and directed – I never lost my passion for performing,” says Taylor on taking the stage once again. It’s clear the passion is still there along with the talent as she still performs with command.

From Jackie with Love is a nice way to meet the woman behind Black Ensemble, bringing with it a positive message in that life is too short to waste time hating when we can be loving each other. It’s a simple message but powerful as she eludes to the root of the issue being that of money and greed also recognizing the steps that are taken to program our children towards violence at such a young age. A warm tribute is made to the many young black men who have lost their lives – just for being black. Taylor’s message is delivered ever so profoundly in this production that is also sure to entertain with its vast variety of touching songs.

From Jackie with Love (What the World Needs Now) is being performed at The Black Ensemble Theater only for a limited time. For tickets and schedule information click here.

 

 

Published in Theatre in Review

Female-fronted fun at Ravinia with Blondie and Garbage

24 July 2017 in In Concert

It was a night for the archetypes of rock at Ravinia this past weekend. The rain finally let up for…

Cirque du Soleil's "LUZIA" is playful, colorful and romantic

23 July 2017 in Theatre in Review

In the Chicago premiere of Cirque du Soleil’s 38th original production, LUZIA (a combination of two Spanish words, luz (light)…

Route 66 Theatre's "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Sloan Kettering Memorial Cancer Center of New York City" Begins August 24th

23 July 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Route 66 Theatre Company is pleased to conclude its ninth season with the Chicago premiere of Halley Feiffer’s dark comedy …

First Floor Theater Announces 2017/18 Season

23 July 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

First Floor Theater is proud to announce their 2017/18 season, featuring one world premiere and two Chicago premieres. Their sixth…

Black Button Eyes Presents "Shockheaded Peter" - August 11 - September 16, 2017 at The Athenaeum Theatre - Chicago Storefront Premiere!

23 July 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Black Button Eyes Productions is pleased to present the Chicago storefront premiere of SHOCKHEADED PETER, the silly and sinister musical…

Linda Fortunato Announces 2018 Season at the Theatre in the Center in Munster

23 July 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Linda Fortunato, Artistic Director of Theatre at the Center (TATC), Northwest Indiana’s only professional theater company, has announced the mainstage…

The Femmes of Rock Leave Fans at The Arcada Theater with a show to remember

22 July 2017 in In Concert

A rainy summer night and this party was a guarantee to go on no matter what. The indoor concert venue…

Great balls of fire! Million Dollar Quartet opens Paramount Theatre's 17-18 season, Sept. 13-Oct. 29, 2017

21 July 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Paramount Theatre is excited to tune up for its rollicking 2017-18 Broadway Series opener Million Dollar Quartet, the wildly popular…

The Tin Woman, A Moving Play About the Value of Having a Heart

20 July 2017 in Theatre in Review

Playwright Sean Grennan’s latest work is based on a true story about a successful heart transplant that occurs between two…

Jazz Guru Barry Harris Inspires at the Jazz Institute of Chicago

20 July 2017 in BCS Spotlight

Barry Harris is not exactly a household name unless you are a Jazz musician. He is a gifted piano player…

First Folio's "As You Like It" is outdoor theatre at its best

18 July 2017 in Theatre in Review

Gentle breezes, crickets chirping (or whatever that sound is they make), and comfortably warm summer nights. We're here. And knowing…

Kokandy Productions' LITTLE FISH - Through August 20, 2017 at Theater Wit - Chicago Premiere!

13 July 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Kokandy Productions is pleased to present the Chicago premiere of Michael John LaChiusa's LITTLE FISH, directed by Producing Artistic Director …

 

 

10 Years! Fave Issue Covers

Register

Latest Articles

Guests Online

We have 29 guests and no members online

Buzz Chicago on Facebook Buzz Chicago on Twitter