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Black Ensemble Theater Celebrates 30th Anniversary With Two World Premieres

Jackie Taylor

Jackie Taylor’s renowned Black Ensemble Theater Company will celebrate its 30th Anniversary this Fall in a big way with the launch of two World Premiere productions: Those Sensational Soulful Sixties, presented by the Black Ensemble Touring Venture at The Black Orchid inside Piper’s Alley beginning October 14 and Don’t Shed A Tear (The Story of Billie Holiday), beginning November 4 at the Black Ensemble Theatre.

“This is an exciting and busy time for the Black Ensemble Theater Company. While we continue to serve our loyal patrons with Don’t Make Me Over (In Tribute to Dionne Warwick) and then Don’t Shed A Tear, we are looking to the future. With a move to our brand new Black Ensemble Theater Center in 2008, we want to introduce the Black Ensemble name and style to new audiences, so our Touring Venture arm will present Those Sensational Soulful Sixties at the Black Orchid,” offered Jackie Taylor, Black Ensemble Theater Company founder and executive director.

Written and directed by Ms. Taylor, Those Sensational Soulful Sixties is a highly energetic and fun remembrance of the golden era of sixties. Black Ensemble’s legendary performers will take audiences back in time as they bring back the hits of Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Brook Benton, Sammy Davis Jr. an many, many more.

Those Sensational Soulful Sixties will be presented by the Black Ensemble Touring Venture as a production of The Black Orchid. The Black Ensemble Touring Venture was formed by Ms. Taylor and business partner Brian Kabatznick in 2003 to develop national tours for the extensive repertoire of Black Ensemble Theatre musical productions. Its first endeavor, The Jackie Wilson Story (My Heart is Crying, Crying), was a rousing success and included a four week stint at the World Famous Apollo Theater in Harlem. That production is credited with propelling Chester Gregory III onto Broadway where he was recently featured in Hairspray and Tarzan.

Opening in November will be Don’t Shed A Tear (The Story of Billie Holiday), written by Ms. Taylor and Dawn Bless Mitchell, and produced and directed by Taylor. The show chronicles the traumatic life of jazz legend, Billie Holiday. They called her “Lady Day” and she attained legendary status as the most influential female singer in Jazz history. This new musical details the traumatic life of this great singer, but also highlights her strengths and attributes as a phenomenal and enduring human being.

Vickie Stokes will star as Billie Holiday and will bring to life some of her greatest music, including “God Bless The Child,” “Strange Fruit” and “Good Morning Heartache.”

The Black Ensemble Theater Company was founded in 1976 by Jackie Taylor, who has written and directed more than 100 productions for the company. In addition to its mainstage productions, the Black Ensemble Theater Company produces ‘Plays with a Purpose,’ a series of original youth-oriented musicals, designed to teach students positive life lessons and vlaues, as well as several community-based programs that use theater arts to enrich the lives of countless students and families.

For more information on the Black Ensemble Theater Company or any of its productions, please visit

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