Black Ensemble Performance

December 28, 2009 Since opening on October 18, 2009, critics and audience members alike have been raving about Black Ensemble Theater's latest World Premiere musical, "The Message Is In The Music (God is a Black Man Named Ricky)," written and directed by the theater's Founder and Artistic Director Jackie Taylor, and featuring songs by Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, The Isley Brothers, Aretha Franklin, The Beatles, Paul Simon and more.

To accommodate the demand for tickets, Taylor has announced that Black Ensemble Theater will extend "The Message Is In The Music (God is a Black Man Named Ricky)" through Sunday, January 31, 2010.

"The Message Is In The Music (God Is A Black Man Named Ricky)" is Black Ensemble's new look at an old story, the fight of good against evil and the struggle between love and hate, where the battlefield is the universe and beyond. "The Message Is In The Music" tells an old story with a new twist, and in true Black Ensemble fashion, although we already know the ending, the road is paved with rollicking laughter, devilish dance and a whole lot of heavenly sounds.

"We are always looking for inventive and creative ways to keep our audiences inspired, uplifted and feeling good about life. No matter your religious or non religious preference, "The Message Is In The Music" is the kind of fun-filled show that will have audiences smiling and singing a long time after they have left the theater," said Taylor.

The Message Is In The Music (God Is A Black Man Named Ricky)" stars the phenomenal Rick Stone (previously acclaimed for portraying Rufus Thomas and Howlin' Wolf) as "He" and "Him" (God's other names); France Jean-Baptiste plays God's woman, "She;" Trinity P. Murdock is His right hand man; while Rhonda Preston and Dawn Bless serve as His alleluia angels. "Lucifer" is fiendishly played by Donald Barnes with Michael T. Bartlett, Jr. as the head demon, "Dwight." Other demons include Carrie and Kylah Frye rounding out the devil's domain. Cory Andre Wright makes a guest appearance as Curtis Mayfield.

Robert Reddrick (Drums) is the musical director and arranger. His seven-piece orchestra includes Tracey Baker (Bass), Mark Moultrup (Piano), Kenn Smith (Guitar), Hank Ford (Tenor Saxophone), Paul Howard (Trumpet) and Bill McFarland (Trombone).

Joining Taylor, the production team includes: Rueben Echoles (choreographer and hair design), Carl Ulaszek (set design), Denise Karczewski (lighting design), Ron White (sound design), Pilar Audain-Reed (costume design) and Razor Wintercastle (stage manager).

"The Message Is In The Music (God is a Black Man Named Ricky)" is staged on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. Performances take place at the Black Ensemble Theater, 4520 N. Beacon in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood.

Tickets, priced at $45, are available by calling the Black Ensemble Theater Box Office at 773-769-4451 or by visiting . Discounts are available for students, seniors and groups.

The Black Ensemble Theater Company was founded in 1976 by Jackie Taylor, who has written and directed more than 100 productions for the company. In addition to its main stage productions, the Black Ensemble Theater Company produces 'Plays with a Purpose,' a series of original youth-oriented musicals, designed to teach students positive life lessons and values, as well as several community-based programs that use theater arts to enhance and enrich the lives of countless youth, students and families.

Black Ensemble Theater is in the final stages of its capital campaign to build a new home for the company, the Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center. Of the $15 million needed for the project $13 million has been raised to date. The Black Ensemble Theater expects to break ground and begin construction in the spring of 2010.

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.

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