Gary native bringing home a taste of Broadway
By Lisa DeNeal email@example.com April 2, 2014 1:50PM
Updated: June 2, 2014 3:17AM
A little more than a year ago, Broadway star, singer, songwriter and Gary native Chester Gregory added “co-writer” and “producer” to his portfolio when he launched his one-man show, “The Eve of Jackie,” and performed before audiences at sold-out venues across the United States.
Gregory, an alumnus of Emerson School of Visual and Performing Arts, is coming home to perform his production at 7 p.m. April 18 at the West Side Theatre, inside West Side Leadership Academy.
Gregory’s show concludes the West Side Theatre Guild’s 2013-14 season of performances.
I had the pleasure of seeing “The Eve of Jackie” last year at the Black Ensemble Theater in Chicago, which is where Gregory debuted on stage years ago.
The theater’s founder and director, Jackie Taylor, cast Gregory to play the late soul crooner Jackie Wilson in “The Jackie Wilson Story (My Heart is Crying, Crying).” That production ran for three years with Gregory playing the title role and launched a career on Broadway, where he starred in “Hairspray,” “Tarzan: The Musical.” He did national tours with “Dreamgirls” and “Sister Act.”
Gregory, who co-wrote “The Eve of Jackie” with Crystal Lucas-Perry, plays Jackie Wilson again, spotlighting on what may have happened the night before what would be Wilson’s final performance.
Wilson collapsed on stage during a benefit concert on Sept. 29, 1975, and was in a coma until his death on Jan. 21, 1984. He was 49 years old.
When I interviewed Gregory last year, he said he wondered what the concept was like and what Jackie did the night before he collapsed.
“I created a dialogue with the audience and he is compelled to talk to them, bringing an entirely different side of Jackie Wilson and what might have happened the night before,” Gregory said.
Tickets for “The Eve of Jackie” are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Tickets can be bought online at www.eventbrite.com.
Tickets can also be reserved by calling (219) 791-3513. You can also buy tickets at the following locations: Big Daddy’s BBQ, 4213 Cleveland St., Gary, (219) 888-9592; and Bilco’s Barber Shop, 2448 Broadway, (219) 886-1483.
Come out and support a phenomenal performance by Gregory. I guarantee that you will enjoy it.