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Black Ensemble Theater announces Once Upon A People: A Dancesical
Nov 4, 2013

Once Upon A People: A DancesicalBlack Ensemble Theater Founder and CEO Jackie Taylor invites audiences to share in the magic of the holiday season with the world-premiere production of Once Upon A People: A Dancesical, written and directed by Black Ensemble Theater Associate Director Rueben D. Echoles and made possible through a generous grant from Chicago Community Trust. During a limited run, Once Upon A People will enchant audiences of all ages at the new Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N. Clark Street in Chicago. The show will run November 30 - December 30, 2013 on Mondays, Tuesdays and Sundays (with an added preview performance on Saturday, November 30) in repertory with The Curtis Mayfield Story. The press opening is Sunday, December 3, 2013, at 7:30pm.

Once Upon A People is an original African Fairytale that exemplifies the true power of love told through spoken word, beautiful music and exhilarating dance. It's a touching and warm adventure that is perfect for the holiday season. We will journey to the mystical land of Mirah where Prince Oba and Princess Erin take us on a fascinating mystical experience that teaches us to embrace the joy of living.

The cast features Alexis J. Rogers (Queen Imani), Donald Craig Manuel (King Babatunde), Eric Lewis (Prince Oba), Jazzelle Morriss (Princess Erin) and Claudia Cunningham (Zahara). Cast members playing various roles include: Camille Robinson, A'rese Emokpae, Trequon Tate, Mark J.P. Hood, LaRaia Gribble, La Dreauna Johnson, Kudzaishe Jeti, Kyle Smith and Aramie C. Payton.

The book and lyrics for Once Upon A People are written by Rueben D. Echoles, with vocal and musical arrangements by Rueben D. Echoles, Alexis J. Rogers and Kelvin Roston, Jr.. As with all Black Ensemble productions, the production features outstanding musicians. The Musical Director is Kelvin Roston, Jr. and the band leader is Robert Reddrick. The production features students from Studio One, a Southside organization dedicated to providing professional dance classes for children for over 25 years.

Title: Once Upon A People: A Dancesical

Written &

Directed by: Rueben D. Echoles

Vocal and Musical

Arrangements by: Alexis J. Rogers, Rueben D. Echoles and Kelvin Roston Jr.

Musical Director: Kelvin Roston Jr.

Band Leader: Robert Reddrick

Dates: November 30, Preview at 3:00

December 1, Preview - 7:30

December 2, Preview 7:30

December 3, Press Opening - 7:30

Schedule: Monday: Dec. 9, 16, 23 and 30 at 7:30pm

Tuesday: Dec. 10, 17, 24 at 7:30pm

Sunday: Dec. 8, 15, 22 and 29 at 7:30pm

Location: Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N. Clark Street.

Valet parking is available.

Ticket prices: $45.00 for adults and $30.00 for children under 12

Box Office: Buy online at or call (773) 769-4451

The Black Ensemble Theater

Founded in 1976, by the phenomenal producer, playwright and actress Jackie Taylor, Black Ensemble Theater is the only African American theater located in the culturally, racially and ethnically diverse north side Uptown community. Through its Five Play Season of Excellence, The Black Ensemble Theater dazzles audiences locally, nationally and internationally with outstanding original musicals that are entertaining, educational and uplifting. The Black Ensemble Theater has produced more than 100 productions and employed over 5,000 artists.

On November 18, 2011, The Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center opened and is able to accommodate larger-scale productions, bigger audiences and a wider range of educational programming. The new facility includes amenities such as a 299-seat main stage theater (double the capacity of the original venue); 14 offices, classroom space; rehearsal hall, dance studio, scene shop, costume shop, and wardrobe rooms; seven dressing rooms; rehearsal room for musicians; front lobby space with concession areas; and an indoor parking garage.

The mission of the Black Ensemble Theater Company is to eradicate racism and its devastating effects upon society through the theater arts. For more information on the Black Ensemble Theater Company, please visit or call 773-769-4451.

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