At Last: A Tribute to Etta James | Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

At Last: A Tribute to Etta James Closing (Theater and Galleries) Member Picks Recommended The Short List (Theater) Image

When: Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 28 2014

Opening night at Black Ensemble's revival felt more akin to a baseball game, with female audience members regularly standing up and cheering during songs—a gesture that seemed to speak as much to the powerful music of Etta James as to the finesse with which BET executive director Jackie Taylor handles the Grammy Award winner's legacy. Taylor, who first wrote and produced the show in 2005, here again uses five "incarnations" of Etta played by five different performers to tell the singer's story, but she's updated the material to reflect James's 2012 death. Drag-queen narrator Ms. Real, reprised with enjoyable sass by Rueben D. Echoles, now takes the form of a kind of deadpanning angel, ushering the five griping Ettas into one last badass belter before the star's final ascent. —Chloe Riley

Price: $55-$65

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