Welcome summer! Curtain Call--Award-winning musical "Get Ready" runs at eta Square, 76th and South Chicago, Thursday through Aug. 17, closing out a season of classics. Written in 1994 by Jaye Stewart, Debi Stewart and Joe Plummer, it’s directed by Ilesa Duncan with music direction by Keith “1” Austin and music score and choreography by Joe Plummer. "Get Ready" is an exploration of the joys and pains that many African American musicians grappled with when music shifted from 1950's doo-wop into what is now considered mainstream pop and R&B. Modeled after groups similar to The Dells and The Temptations, "Get Ready" tells the story of the fictional group, The Doves, who are well past their heyday but are preparing to “get ready” for their great comeback in hopes of recapturing the bliss of days gone by. "Get Ready" premiered at Victory Gardens Theater to rave reviews. A year later, playing at eta, it won a Black Theatre Alliance Award for Best Writing and a Jeff Citation for Best Script. Since then it’s played in such theatres as Penumbra in Minnesota, Ensemble in Texas and New Horizon in Pennsylvania. The cast Includes Paulette Bruce, J. J. McCormick, Edward Richardson, Gideon Walker, Woody Bolar, Erick Townsend, Kelvin Roston Jr. and Jon Pierce. Show times are Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $30 with reduced rates for groups, seniors and students. ComEd-sponsored “2 for 1” nights are Thursdays, 8 p.m.; and Sundays, 7 p.m. Call (773) 752-3955 or visit www.etacreativearts.org. Also opening Thursday, 6 p.m., “In the Spirit of Art,” an exhibit in eta’s Gallery by painter-sculptor Sura Dupart.
Curtain Call II–"Ain’t Misbehavin’," the electrifying musical showcase of legendary composer and performer Thomas “Fats” Waller, opens at Goodman Theatre on Monday in a brand new production 30 years after its Tony Award-winning world premiere. Resident director Chuck Smith’s revival emphasizes Waller’s rich music by expanding its platform from abaret to concert. The 856-seat Albert Ivar Goodman Theatre has been transformed into a grandiose period music venue featuring an eight-piece band led by Malcolm Ruhl. Five of Chicago’s foremost musical theater talents including E. Faye Butler (Purlie), John Steven Crowley (Crowns), Alexis Rogers (Black Nativity), Parrish Collier and Lina Kernan present an evening of 30 foot-stomping ragtime romps, passionate ballads and outrageous songs: "Your Feet’s Too Big," "Honeysuckle Rose" and "The Joint is Jumpin’," among many others that Waller composed, recorded or collaborated on. "Ain’t Misbehavin’" continues through July 27. Tickets are $23-$78. Call (312) 443-3800.
Celebrating “50”–I traveled to Silver Spring, Md. (a suburb of Washington, D.C.) a couple of weekends ago with Janet Poole and Thelma Merchant to attend the golden wedding anniversary of two long-time pals, Christine (Hicks) and Herwald “Hal” Morton who wed in Chicago on June 8, 1958, exactly 50 years to the day of their anniversary celebration. Christine, Janet, Thelma and I were college pals and members of The Dozen, a popular social club back then that raised scholarship dollars via “first night” charity theatre parties and various other fun and fundraising activities.
From 1949-1954, Hal served in the U.S. military in Alaska, Germany and France and was discharged as a First Lieutenant. He retired as a Senior Foreign Service Officer from the U.S. Information Agency in October ‘93. During the 50 years Hal and Christine lived in Chicago, Washington, D.C, Colombia, Colorado, Jamaica, Bolivia, Thailand and the Philippines. Parents of two handsome sons, Keith of Rockville and Brian (my godson) of Baltimore, together they’ve traveled to over 130 countries (yes, 130 countries!) around the world and are still inveterate travelers. Both are avid tennis players and Christine is a former Chicago champion swimmer. Hal, originally from Little Rock, was installed in the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1996. He attended and/or received undergraduate and graduate degrees from New York Univ., Roosevelt Univ. (where he and Christine first met), University of Chicago and University of Colorado.
Some 300 kinfolk and friendfolk attended the Sunday dinner-dance celebration that was highlighted with a marvelous 50-year video presentation of the “bride and groom,” featuring their many exotic travels and residences. (I visited them some years ago in their sprawling hill-top home with outdoor swimming pool in Jamaica.) On Monday, out-of-towners, other family, friends and colleagues, some of whom were unable to attend the Sunday celebration, gathered in the Morton’s bi-level five bedroom home (with tennis courts out back!) for brunch. We enjoyed made-to-order omelets, chilled champagne and other delicious homemade treats; magic and slight-of-hand feats performed by son Keith and camaraderie well into the afternoon before heading to the airport for home. What a warm and wonderful weekend!
Fashion Focus–Dorothy Brown, clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, receives special honors during “Variations in Black & White, Act II,” the ninth annual fashion show hosted by New Millennium Women for Change on Sunday, 2 p.m.-6 p.m., at the Sabre Room, 8900 W. 95th St., in southwest suburban Hickory Hills. The afternoon will spotlight fashions modeled by Upstairs Entertainment with special guest appearances by local celebrities and VIPs. There’ll also be a raffle and vendor sales. For $50 tickets, call (773) 493-6169. A.K.A.
Newsy Names!–Larry Huggins, Bill Garth and Everett and Timothy Rand hosted a reception this week at Tim and Sandra’s Kenwood manse for Gov. Blagojevich.
Friends of Cook County Commissioner Robert Steele toss a B’Day Summer Fundraiser for him Thursday, 5:30 p.m., at Hotel Allegro.
Same night, 6 p.m.-10 p.m., is the Barbara Bates Foundation Fashion Show & Fundraiser at the Regal Theatre. Call (312) 427-0284. Ending Black Music Month, Jewel-Osco salutes three legends at “Jazz at Jewel,” 4 p.m.-7 p.m., in three stores – Luther Vandross, Thursday, 1220 S. Ashland; Natalie Cole, Friday, 7910 S. Cicero; and Frankie Beverly, Saturday, 3153 W. 183rd St., in Homewood. Promised: good eats, surprise gifts and great jazz. Chaka Kahn opens the Taste of Chicago on Friday, then Stevie Wonder Saturday and American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino July 2. Kanye West comes to Grant Park, Aug. 1-3, to perform at Lollapalooza. For info, visit lolla@frontgatetickets. com or call (800) 512-7669.
Reggae Royals–It’ll be an explosive, multi-generational blowout when veteran Reggae icons Gregory Isaacs and Junior Reid and new blood Dancehall superstars Beenie Man and Baby Cham each claim a night over the July 4 weekend at the 16th Annual African Caribbean International Festival of Life in Washington Park. To get the fireworks started, Baby Cham will kick off the Independence Weekend on July 3 with the raw uncut sounds of Kingston’s dancehalls delivered in his booming baritone voice. Since the mid-1990s, Baby Cham (born Damian Beckett) has represented the best of cutting-edge dancehall reggae. Daily admission is $10 for adults before 5 p.m., $15 after 5 p.m.; $5 all day for children under 12 and seniors 65 and older; free to kids 6 and under. A $30 four-day pass is also available. Tickets at ticketmaster.com or (312) 559-1212. Call (312) 427-0266 or visit these websites: www.festivaloflife.biz or www.martinsinterculture.com.
______ Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.