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

Traitor Mixes Hilarious Send-up With Biting Commentary on Our Times

16 January 2018 in Theatre in Review

The mayor of small-town East Lake, Illinois is facing a crisis: lead contamination was just discovered under a thriving magnet…

Review: Five Mile Lake at Theater Wit

16 January 2018 in Theatre in Review

With the homecoming and family-visit season safely in the rear-view, Shattered Globe presents a new play by Rachel Bonds about…

Once More for Nevermore!: Edge Theater’s newest play worth seeing again

12 January 2018 in Theatre Reviews

Once upon a winter’s glow, I did venture to see a show, A show so dark and oddly brooding, filled…

For The Loyal is dynamic and brutally honest

10 January 2018 in Theatre in Review

Echoing the western world’s most debated issue of late, For The Loyal was inspired by the Penn State sexual abuse…

Haven Theatre's FEAR AND MISERY IN THE THIRD REICH - February 8 - March 11, 2018 at The Den Theatre

10 January 2018 in Upcoming Theatre

Haven Theatre is pleased to continue its 2017-18 Season with Bertolt Brecht’s unsettling and unflinching drama FEAR AND MISERY IN…

Porchlight's New Faces Series returns to the Skokie Theatre with New Faces Sing 1959 and host Wicked's "Wizard of Oz" Gene Weygandt

06 January 2018 in Upcoming Theatre

Porchlight Music Theatre and Artistic Director Michael Weber are proud to announce the second production in its 2017 – 2018…

Flying Elephant Productions' WE THE PEOPLE - SONGS OF THE RESISTANCE - January 26 - February 10, 2018 at Stage 773 - World Premiere Musical!

01 January 2018 in Upcoming Theatre

Flying Elephant Productions is pleased to launch its inaugural season with the world premiere of WE THE PEOPLE – SONGS…

Absurdity, Treachery, Heartbreak....and Laughs in BLKS at Steppenwolf

26 December 2017 in Theatre in Review

BLKS, a new comedy premiering at Steppenwolf Theater, tracks three young black women sharing an apartment in New York City,…

Interrobang Theatre Project Presents FOR THE LOYAL

18 December 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Following its hit production of FOXFINDER, Interrobang Theatre Project is pleased to continue its 2017-18 Season, exploring the urgent question…

The New Colony Presents THE LIGHT

18 December 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

The New Colony is pleased to conclude its ninth season with the world premiere of Loy Webb’s gripping romantic drama …

Shattered Globe Theatre Presents the Chicago Premiere of FIVE MILE LAKE

18 December 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Shattered Globe Theatre is pleased to continue its 2017-18 Season with Rachel Bonds’ new drama FIVE MILE LAKE, directed by …

The Greenhouse Theater Center Presents ROSE

18 December 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Following its hit production of MACHINAL, Greenhouse Theater Center is pleased to continue its 2017-18 season with the return of …

 

 

10 Years! Fave Issue Covers

Register

Latest Articles

Guests Online

We have 58 guests and one member online

Buzz Chicago on Facebook Buzz Chicago on Twitter