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Sounds So Sweet Review – Superb!

By Barbara Keer

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Heading for the Black Ensemble Theatre to see “Sounds So Sweet”, written and directed by Rueben Echoles, I anticipated terrific music, vocally and instrumentally, spectacular costumes, great staging and choreograpy and an enjoyable afternoon.  What I did not anticipate was the story.  It surprised me to feel as though this story, in large part, was speaking directly to me.  Many stories tell about famous individuals.  This told about a family with so many familiar characters and concerns.

  

The story skillfully and logically blended songs that were popular as far as the 1940’s through today into the story.  As the Harris family comes together from various parts of the country in Mississippi to celebrate the life of the family’s matriarch, Grandstine (Yahdina U-Deen), we meet people and personalities that seem very recognizable.  As I watched all of the interactions, I kept thinking that people are so much more alike than they are different.

 

 

The Harris family had singing in their blood and the eldest generation, Grandstine and her husband were performers.  The audience thoroughly enjoyed the renditions of the various girl groups that made it to the “American Song Book of Soul” as the Harris family remembered and recounted the groups that included songs from Destiny’s Child, En Vogue, The Chiffons, The Shirelles, The Supremes, and the Andrews Sisters – just to name a few.  Audience members most familiar with these groups responded to the songs with enthusiasm.

 

The sets, choreography, and acting deserve high marks. The voices were outstanding and the musicians did not disappoint. This was a “feel good” story that was totally enjoyable and sent me home feeling hopeful and happy.  See it soon!

 

 

 

The multi- talented cast of fifteen features Black Ensemble veterans Yahdina Udeen, Rhonda Preston, Dawn Bless, and Melanie McCullough, joined by Nicole Michelle Haskins, Ti Nicole Dandrige, Paige Hauer, Casey Hayes, Mark JP Hood, Daniel Phillips, Jessica Seals, Rebecca Hayes, Renelle Daniels, Cherise Thomas, and Kyle Smith. This group just "oozes" talent.

 

Musical Director Robert Reddrick (drums) leads the outstanding musical team, with Herb Walker (guitar), Danny O’Connor (bass), and Justin Dillard (keyboard).  The design team includes Aaron Quick (sound), Ruthanne Swanson (costumes), and the A Team (set).  The Stage Manager is Cara Parrish and Scenic Artist is Coco Ree Lemery.

 

"Sounds So Sweet" closes May 17th
Running Thursdays - 7:30
Fridays – 8:00 – Saturday 3:00 and 8:00 Sundays 3:00

 

Location:  Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N. Clark Street.   Valet parking is available.

Ticket prices:   $55 on Thursdays, and Saturday matinees; and $65 on Fridays, Saturday evenings, and Sunday matinees. A 10% discount is available for students, seniors, and groups.

Box Office: Buy online at Black Ensemble website or call (773) 769-4451

 

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), is expected in to begin construction by General Contractor Norcon Inc. in April 2015 with a January 2016 opening.

 

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 Black Ensemble website or call 773-769-4451.

 

Photos: Danny Nicholas

Published on Apr 20, 2015

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