Chicago Theatre Review
Black Ensemble's "Wonders" a Joyous Celebration of Music
One Hit Wonders – Black Ensemble Theatre
“One Hit Wonders,” a new original production at Black Ensemble Theater, is one of the most purely fun productions that I’ve seen in some time, a joyous romp through musical history with a whimsy and sentimentality befitting the nature of its musical playbook.
Set in the backstage of a fictional musical variety show, “Wonders” follows the trials and tribulations of the show’s
cast, as its driven director (the wonderful Kelvin Roston Jr., who starred in Court Theatre’s superb “Seven Guitars” earlier this year) grapples with dueling egos, familial discontent, and scheduling conflicts to put on a show devoted to, as the show’s title betrays, one hit wonders.
Of course, what really matters in a show like this is the music, and “Wonders” is fortunate to have a fairly sensational cast performing its numbers, which run the gamut from “Follow Me,” to “Ring My Bell,” to a delightful medley of hip hop one hit wonders. Simply, there’s not a single weak voice in “Wonders” expansive cast, so whether its veteran actress and singer Ereatha McCullough singing a defiant “I Will Survive” or the hopelessly charming Yando Lopez delivering a killer “Hey There Lonely Girl,” it’s exciting seeing a new cast member take the mic – and seeing how their talents stack up to an already prodigiously gifted line-up.
There are some minor points to grapple with – the plot is a bit thin, for one, and sometimes it feels as though certain developments (some of which lean towards serious territory) operate simply in service to the songs – but again, in the face of such musical talent, it’s downright silly to bicker over such small details.
Reviewed by Peter Thomas Ricci
Presented May 17 – June 29 by Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640
Tickets are available by calling (773) 769-4451 or by visiting www.blackensembletheater.org/.
Additional information about this and other spectacular area productions is available at the one, the only, the indefatigable www.theatreinchicago.com.
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