The Black Ensemble presents Grandma’s Jukebox, written and directed by Michelle Bester. The show runs now through June 26, 2022, at the Black Ensemble Theatre located at 4450 N. Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois 60640.
I have been a fan of the Black Ensemble Theatre for years, and I have to say that this production had a different vibe. It was refreshing, and I enjoyed the storyline.
In this heartwarming drama, we meet the four grandchildren grandma Betty raised. Each of them has an all too familiar story about how they ended up living with Grandma Betty. The eldest is Jessica (Jessica Seals), and she wants everyone to believe she has a perfect life, but they all know the truth. Christopher (Vincent Jordan) is the ex-felon trying to get his life together. Mikey (Blake Reasoner) finds happiness pursuing his acting and music, while P (Aeriel Williams) struggles to find her voice. She is the most affected by grandma Betty’s death until the jukebox mysteriously turns on one day.
The story reminds me of my childhood and how my cousins and I would meet on weekends at my grandparents’ house. It also reminded me of my relationship with my grandmother and how she played an instrumental part in my life. Like P, my grandmother was my best friend, and she often supported me and my dreams.
The entire cast does a fantastic job, and the harmonization is on point. Michelle does a great job revealing bits of the storyline and incorporating music to tell the character’s story. Jessica Seals (Jessica) blows the audience away with her powerhouse vocals with her rendition of Jazmine Sullivan’s, Hurt Me So Good.
Overall, the production was excellent. The storyline was good, and the acting was entertaining. I can honestly say that there was never a dull moment. The run time is 90 minutes without an intermission. I highly recommend this production. Ticket prices are $55 and are available at www.blackensemble.org.