photos by Danny Nicholas from L to R: Rashawn Thompson (Marvin Gaye), Yahdina Udeen (Alberta Gaye - Mother), Donald Barnes (Marvin Gaye Sr. – Father), Lawrence Williams (Frankie Gaye), Rueben Echoles (Berry Gordy), Rashaad Hall (Smokey Robinson), Lyle Miller (Harvey Fuqua), Dawn Bless (Gwen Gordy), Katrina Miller (Anna Gordy), and Melanie McCullough (Tammi Terrell and Jan Gaye).  The ensemble also includes A’rese Emokpae, Stori Johnson, and Cory Wright.

With a powerful voice and a commanding stage present Rashawn Thompson is outsatnding in the role of Marvin Pentz Gaye Jr.  Yesterday afternoon, at the Black Ensemble Theatre, Thompson did justice to one of the greatest talents to come out of the Motown dynasty.  

The Marvin Gaye Story revealed the struggles of the singer while also honoring his vast contributions to the music industry and the world. Gaye's 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 played by Melanie McCullough such as “All I Need To Get By,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” and “If This World Were Mine.” 

Marvin Gaye won two Grammy Awards including Best Vocal Performance for “Sexual Healing” in 1983.  This song was one of the best the best moments of the show when Thompson electrify the audience singing the hit.

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 own father but on stage they just refer to it and don't show the actual shooting.

Yahdina Udeen in the role of Gaye's Mother is remarkable. Her powerful voice and her ability to act won my heart and admiration as she sang her finale which was my favorite moment of the entire show. Ms Udeen is by far the best talent I witness on stage yesterday. She is outstanding, and deserve getting the best of any musical awards anywhere in the USA for her superb performance as the mother, a performance that is bigger than life!

This Black Ensemble Theater production, written, produced and directed by Black Ensemble Theater Founder and CEO Jackie Taylor, will embrace this sentiment and celebrate a legacy of beautiful music that will last forever. The Marvin Gaye Story  is a winner.

At The Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N. Clark, Through July 29, 2012.  Valet parking is available. Wednesdays & Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8:00 p.m., and Saturdays at 3:00 p.m.and 8:00 p.m.. Sundays at 3:00 p.m.  Tickets priced at $55-$65. A 10% discount is available for students, seniors, and groups. Available online at www.ticketmaster.com, or by phone (773) 769-4451.

 
 
photos: top: BOLERO ©Laurent Philippe • bottom: Giselle ©Christian Leiber

The Harris Theater presents the Chicago debut of the Paris Opéra Ballet from June 26 - July 1. This week long engagement marks the Ballet’s first return to the United States in more than a decade. The world’s finest ballet company will launch its national tour with two programs that have never been presented in the United States—the iconic love story Giselle, June 26-28; and The French Mixed Repertoire from June 29-July 1. This will include Suite En Blanc by Serge Lifar, Roland Petit’s L’Arlésienne, and Le Boléro by Maurice Béjart. All shows will be accompanied by the Grant Park Orchestra in a first-ever collaboration with the Harris Theater. Mayor Rahm Emanuel will be present at the Opening Night Benefit Gala, June 26 to welcome the company to Chicago. 

Additional programs: The Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, May 31-June 3 in their Summer Series. One program will feature one of the most significant contemporary choreographer William Forsythe.
The Chicago Chamber Musicians will celebrate its 25th anniversary on June 4. This magnificent program will feature many ensemble artists performing works by Wagner, Brahms and John Stevens.