World Premiere – I Am Who I Am (The Story of Teddy Pendergrass); written, produced and directed by Jackie Taylor, Black Ensemble Theatre’s founder and director, will have its world premiere on March 7 at BET, 4520 N. Beacon. It will feature three new songs penned for the show by Pendergrass and co-writer Bill Jolly: I Am Who I Am, This Far by Faith and A Mother’s Love. A Gala Benefit Performance with Pendergrass in attendance will be held at BET on March 16 at 3 p.m. Tickets at $250 include a precurtain reception with Pendergrass and prime theatre seating; $150 tickets include an after reception. I Am Who I Am is the third installment of BET’s 2007-08 Season of Excellence, showcasing contributions of male groups from the 1960s through today.
Kevin McIlvaine and RaShawn Thompson share the role of Pendergrass. BET’s Jimmy Tillman is musical director; Thomas Washington, musical arranger. Tickets: $45, $40 for previews. Contact the box office, (773) 769-4451, Tickemaster, (312) 902-1500 or www.ticketmaster.com. Discounts are available for students, seniors and groups.
Grass Roots Revelry – The Chi-Lites perform Friday at the Heritage Black & Gold Masquerade Ball, Awards Presentation & Concert at the Premiere Entertainment Center in Dolton, $40. It’s the culmination of Grass Roots Foundation’s 11th annual week-long celebration of Black Heritage Month, chaired by Brenda Batiste, Ann Hinton and Darlene White. Other events this week: two free kick-off receptions on Wednesday, Chicago Legends, 2109 S. Wabash, 5 p.m. and Close-Up 2, 416 S. Clark, 7 p.m.; and Comedy Showcase hosted by Tony Sculfield, Thursday, VIP Reception, 5 p.m., and showtime, 8 p.m., Jokes-n-Notes, 4641 S. King Drive, $20. For more, call (708) 925- 1967.
Beauty Bonus – “African American Hair 2008” with Jacqueline Tarrant and James Adams of Clairol Professional, Dr. Reginal Mitchell of Namaste and Carla M. Jones of SoftSheen-Carson will be featured at America’s Beauty Show, Saturday-Monday at McCormick Place, 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive, showcasing hot new products coming soon “to a salon near you!” Also on hand: veteran Hollywood hairstylist, Dr. Boogie, major domo of Boogie Secrets Hairpieces, a signature line of “do-it-yourself” clip-on extensions, wigs, ponytails, falls and chignons, who participated on Bravo’s reality series Shear Genius. He’s also known for developing Eve’s hallmark platinum short cut and Kimora Lee Simmons’ sexy glam look. Some 70,000 salon professionals will learn about new techniques, products and services in the multi-billion dollar glitzy, glamorous beauty industry featuring major companies such as Wella, Redken, Joico, Alterna, Jean Paul Mitchell, Sebastian, Keune and hair extensions from Hairdreams. Also on tap: TV’s Nick Arrojo of What Not to Wear fame, Jean Paul DeJoria of Paul Mitchell Systems, Martin Parsons, master “up-do” guru; Janine, stylist from Sexy Hair for Celebrities; Lil’ Kim; Katharine McPhee, American Idol winner; and Anthony Morrison, Shear Genius winner. Visit www.americasbeautyshow.com.
Magic Music – Ain’t Misbehavin,’ the two-time Tony Award-winning Broadway musical of the songbook of Thomas Wright “Fats” Waller and Harlem in its prime, comes to Governors State’s Center for Performing Arts on Saturday, 8 p.m. Belting out, the dynamic cast in period costumes will sing over 30 showstopping tunes, strut, stomp and swing through honky-tonk dives, the Cotton Club, Tin Pan Alley and the Waldorf.
Award-winning director is A. Curtis Farrow, in his ninth year as producer-director of McDonald’s Gospel Fest, for which he’s won Emmys in 2000 and 2001. His previous credits: Sophisticated Ladies, Five Guys Named Mo, Godspell, Smokey Joe’s CafT, Eubie, The Nat King Cole Songbook, The Elegance of Ellington, Gospitality, Cotton Club Review and Your Arms Too Short to Box With God. Tickets ($33/$37/$44) are available at the box office, (708) 235-2222 or at www.centertickets.net. Call (800) 386-6321 for group discounts. Pick up “two for one tickets” (if available) at the box office at 6 p.m. Free parking!
Happy B’day - to Mabel Truitt, who celebrates her 100th on Saturday at St. Anselm Catholic Church where she’s been active in the Senior Organization, Ladies Auxiliary of the Knights of St. Peter Claver’s Court 88; and the Brown Scapular’s Seniors for 56 years. The “birthday girl” worked at Daley Plaza Restaurant, volunteered for the Women’s Army for National Defense during wartime, is abreast of current affairs, uses public transportation and is an active voter . . . Also b’day cheer to Dr. Sandra Givens, motivational speaker and retired educator; Iberia Hampton, beloved mom of slain Black Panther Fred Hampton and Bill Hampton.
Elegant Evening – Formally attired gents in top hats, white ties and tails, escorting ladies in glitzy designer finery will walk the red carpet leading to Proviso-Leyden Council for Community Action’s 40th anniversary celebration on Saturday at the Marriott Hotel, with entertainment by The Stylistics, that’s marking four decades in the music industry. Also taking part in the evening will be state Sen. Kimberly Lightford, PLCCA board member who’ll celebrate her 40th birthday. Bonnie DeShong, host of Chicago Works, is chair. Co-chairs: Albert Randall, NBC 5; Joyce Tucker, The Boeing Co.; and Cynthia Johnson, CJ and Associates.
Condolences – to the family of a dear and generous friend, Barbara Jones Green, executive director of Lakeside Community Committee and CEO of Jonette Enterprises, who died suddenly Friday in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. visiting with friends. Barbara was just elected as a Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) delegate to the Democratic National Convention. Among her many associations: Chicago Carrousels, Lake Shore Links, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and Chicago Moles. The funeral is Monday, 10 a.m., at St. Paul Church of God in Christ, 4526 S. Wabash. Visitation begins at 9 a.m. Cage Memorial Chapel is in charge of final arrangements, (773) 221-8900.
Honors for 10 - Abena Joan Brown, Common, Christopher Gardner, Spencer Leak Sr., Bishop Ocie Booker, Pastor William S. Winston, Dr. Allen Smith, Dr. Terra Thomas, Atty. James Montgomery and Justice R. Eugene Pincham receive honors and praise from The Friends of Dorothy Brown during a Black History Month Gala, “Still Making History,” on Saturday at the Grand Ballroom. For info and tickets, call Donna Hodge, (312) 239- 0435.
For Blues Buffs! – From smoking glide guitar runs to raw-boned Chicago shuffles to the deepest slow blues, Lil’ Ed Williams and his Blues Imperials will perform on Friday, 7 p.m., when the University of Illinois at Chicago concludes 2008 African American Heritage Month at its 18th annual Blues Cabaret at UIC forum, 725 W. Roosevelt Rd. The group has been entertaining audiences with energetic blues performances for upwards of 25 years. Admission, which includes a soul food buffet, is a mere $10 for UIC students with IDs and $25 for the rest of us. Call (312) 413-5070.