One Name Only at Chicago's Black Ensemble Theater: A Show With Soul.

One Name Only at Chicago's Black Ensemble Theater: A Show With Soul.
One Name Only at BET. Photo Credit: Danny Nicholas.

CHICAGO, Thursday, October 11, 2012. If you're looking for an outstanding evening of musical entertainment at the theater, "One Name Only", may be just your ticket.

The World Premiere production penned and directed by Black Ensemble Associate Director Rueben Echoles is in tune with today's reality show mentality. The clever mash-up of television's pop reality shows gives a nod to "The Voice" "American Idol" and "Top Model" yet as the sub-title suggests "One Name Only"  is "A Different Kind of Reality Show."

The show revolves around 12 hopeful and talented young ladies--each with a different story--vying to be the final contestant and win $100,000 plus a recording contract that, as the contestants are often and humorously reminded," goes to only one and "One Name Only".

Soon the group of hopefuls is narrowed to eight finalists who move into the B.E. Mansion where we learn their stories. As they sing, compete and one, by one, are eliminated we experience their spirit and get to know their souls.  There's the "ghetto girl", Tanika (in a knockout performance by Lisa Beasley), a single mom who wants to win it all for her little girl. There's Marylin (the fading star with a beautiful voice played by Candace C. Edwards) who thinks she is above the others, locks horns with Tanika, yet reveals her softer side with April (Deborah Spencer).  There's sweet, young and talented Kara (Ta-Tynisa Wilson), who wants to make her grandparents, who are raising her, proud. Then there's the cousins Miko (Jerica Exum) and Mya (A’rese Emokpae) with great pipes and their own stories.

The show continues with more amazing music and performances from Dawn Bless (in the duel roles of Aretha Franklin and Patti LaBelle) and Katrina V. Miller as both Gladys Knight and Tina Turner. Rashawn Thompson, who recently starred as Marvin Gaye at BET, was perfection in the role of Sam, the MC who reminded the contestants that in the end there would be "One Name Only" and then serenaded each loser with a subtly funny rendition of "Good Night Sweetheart, it's time to go".

Throughout the show, we are treated to the songs of soul's greatest legends--Aretha, Gladys, Tina, Patti and Whitney accompanied by the outstanding sound of the seven-piece onstage band directed by Robert Reddrick.  The audience becomes part of the show as they cheer for their favorite. "One Name Only" packs a wallop with its touching personal stories, humor, hot music, and performances bringing a realness to this "Different Kind of Reality Show".  So, if you want to see some "feel good" theater that puts a smile on your face--then, "sweetheart, it's time to go" to Black Ensemble Theater for "One Name Only."


Tickets for One Name Only (A Different Kind of Reality Show) are $55 for Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturday matinees; and $65 on Fridays, Saturday evenings, and Sunday matinees.  A 10% discount is available for students, seniors, and groups. Tickets are available by phone, (773) 769-4451, or online. Running time: 2 hours 40 minutes. Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 North Clark, (773)769-4451. Through November 11.

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