This weekend Jackie Taylor's dream came true. It happened just like she planned it. On the corner, 4450 North Clark STreet, stands The Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center. It is the house that Jackie built. She moved from the basement spot on Beacon Street to a brand new Hollywood beautiful structure. It is all that and more. Her dream came true. Plays for the community. Plays that remember Black heritage. Plays that celebrate greatness. Dionne Warwick did the interiors, accounting for the Hollywood touch. It is glamorous and the corner is bright. There are even orange roses in the bathrooms.
Friday was opening night and all were there. Saturday the first paying audience appeared to see The Jackie Wilson Story. It was wonderful. The stars were out. The play told the real story of Mr. Excitement and his complicated life on the stage and behind the scenes. Surely Broadway and Hollywood will pay more visit to the north side theater to explore and discover new and fresh talent. Her's will become a resource and is a Chicago treasurer. After the play, in Jackie style, the performers stand at the door and greet the audience. There is even an after party after the play.
I am so proud of Jackie Taylor and I know I must sound gooey. But I remember one day she called me to say, I need to talk to you. I invited her over to my house one Saturday afternoon. We sat on the sofa talking about her theater for hours. She knew what was ahead in her fund raise efforts. She recognized reality. She had a vision. She was not afraid of the hard work. She reached out to a variety of communities. She move forward to build a $20 million cultural facility. She did it. She did it in tough times.
Beautiful. Bravo. And now ladies and gentlemen the show is on. The theater is open and ready for business. Buy your ticket for some of the best theater in town.