Singing, dancing, backbends, splits and more! Get ready for a production that will rock your world!
The Adrienne Arsht Center and Herman LeVern Jones’s TheatreSouth Atlanta, Inc.(HLJTSA) will be presenting The Eve of Jackie starring Broadway’s Chester Gregory at the Carnival Studio Theatre from October 12-25, 2015. HLJTSA and the Adrienne Arsht Center are working together to bring transformative arts experiences to the South Florida community. The Eve of Jackie is a touring production that has amazed audiences all over, and now it is here in Miami!
The Eve of Jackie
The Eve of Jackie brings tribute to the legendary performer known as “Mr. Excitement”, Jackie Wilson, who inspired not only Chester Gregory but also the likes of Elvis Presley, Al Green, Michael Jackson and countless others. Gregory, in character as Wilson, takes audiences on an entertaining journey through Wilson’s mind, capturing the essence of Wilson’s signature choreography, spirit and inexhaustible energy as if it was his last performance of his life.
The Eve of Jackie transports you back into the groove of the ‘60s and examines the life of a human being who dedicated his life to his passion for music. It confronts the wonder of Jackie Wilson’s life and the possible exploitation of his music. Wilson, although well-known and widely celebrated for his music, had little to his name upon his death.
Born in Gary, Indiana to a steel mill worker and a school teacher, Chester “CHΞSS” Gregory drew inspiration from hometown hero Michael Jackson to pursue his dream of becoming an artist.
He began his journey performing in local talent shows and participating in workshops for young performers. After a few years, Gregory was ready to take the next step and auditioned for the Emerson School for Visual and Performing Arts. Although his first two attempts were unsuccessful, Gregory didn’t give up, and his third try provided him the opportunity to attend by the time he reached high school. A testament to his gift, he was voted ‘Most Talented’ his senior year of high school.
Upon graduating high school, Gregory began attending Columbia College, where he majored in Musical Theatre. Here Gregory was able to hone his skills and lay the groundwork for his foundation as a performer. Shortly before graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, Gregory earned the leading role as Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar. After graduating, Gregory began teaching acting classes and directing several productions at East Chicago Central High School and Indiana University Northwest.
Shortly thereafter, Gregory’s vocal range and acting prowess afforded him the lead role in Chicago’s Black Ensemble Theatre’s production of The Jackie Wilson Story, for which he received major acclaim. The Jackie Wilson Story culminated at New York’s famed Apollo Theater and received rave reviews from the New York Times: “There is essentially one reason – and it’s a very good one – to see The Jackie Wilson Story, and that is the star: Chester Gregory.”
This award-winning role gave him the opportunity to sing for the legendary “King of Pop,” Michael Jackson, in 2003. Jackson gave Gregory a standing ovation for his performance that night, and a week later Gregory booked his debut Broadway role as Seaweed in the Tony Award Winning musical Hairspray.
In the spring of 2013, Gregory produced his own show titled The Eve of Jackie. Premiering in New York, Gregory performed to a sold-out audience at 54 Below, before bringing the show to Chicago’s Black Ensemble Theater for a sold-out premiere. That summer, his production was selected to headline The National Black Theatre Festival. Immediately after, Gregory returned to his originating role as Officer Eddie Souther in Sister Act‘s national 2013-2014 tour.
Gregory credits the exposure he got at the National Black Theatre Festival with helping him land the part, which he followed with the role of James “Thunder” Early in a national tour of “Dreamgirls,” a performance that netted him an NAACP Theater Award. More recently, he played Eddie in “Sister Act” in Broadway.“The festival literally changed my life,” he said. “I’m so honored to come here as often as I can and celebrate black theater, which is American theater.”
TheatreSouth Company Profile
TheatreSouth Atlanta, Inc. (TSA) was founded in 2007 as a Georgia Non-Profit in Atlanta, GA. The company’s founder Mr. Herman LeVern Jones, MFA (a 42 year theatre veteran) started this organization to expose the local metro community to healthy classical theatre arts. Mr. Jones, a seasoned community activist, understands the power of theatre arts and how the arts develop lifelong presentational skills for individuals from all industries, statuses, and backgrounds.
TSA’s mission is to educate, enlighten, strengthen, and enhance the local talents through theatre arts. The company’s motto is “Healthy theatre for your heart and soul!”
Over the past 8 years, TheatreSouth Atlanta, Inc. has cultivated the community with several projects. The company’s first major gift came from AstraZeneca pharmaceutical in the form of $10,000 USD to produce “A Rude Awaking” written by the CEO of the Association of Black Cardiologist. In 2008, TSA continued its projects doing a celebration for Yolanda King, hosting the AACT National Board of Directors Conference performing “Ghosts Stories of the Blacksmith Curse”, and receiving DeKalb Council for the Arts Grant for our African American Theatre: Past Present, and Future display and performing “Images”. TheatreSouth Atlanta, Inc. was highlighted in 2009 for working with Georgia State University (GSU) to produce and direct “A Raisin in the Sun” and then created summer internships for the GSU students to work at the summer arts camp. In 2010, TSA national tour of “MADAM” the musical based on the life and times of Madam C. J. Walker ran for a total of 10 months.
TSA has continued its performance highlights, currently producing and directing the Broadway production of “I Have A Dream” A Gospel Musical based on the words of American Icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – 2014; TSA produced and directed Esq. Ted Johnson’s original morality play “Sunday Worshiper” – 2012; the company at both the National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta, GA and the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, NC – 2011; presenting an arts exhibition of Joan Gaither’s “Marvtastic Memories Documentary Quilt” – 2011; Grant recipient of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs Tourist Development Grant for “I Have A Dream” The Broadway Musical; Partnership with the City of Homestead and the City of Florida City with a 2013 granting award of $15,000 to produce “I Have A Dream” The Broadway Musical at the Phichol Williams Community Center in Homestead, and the company performed at the 2014 First Annual Black Heritage Festival in Miami Gardens under the development of Commissioner Barbara Jordan, and many more projects that have given great exposure to our non-profit (i.e. TheatreSouth Atlanta, Inc. is an official partner of billion dollar green project “AtlantaBeltline”).
All of our projects are family oriented and for all ages of men, women, and children who look to be entertained and educated through the arts. As we continue to build a stronger brand in our community, we also hope to build a community brand that illustrates to the world, art lives in heart of the United States of America.
“The Eve of Jackie” Project Team
PRODUCTION TEAM: Justine Karl, Yonnick LeVern Jones, Jeffrey M. Tucker, Carolyn W. Jones, Brigitte Keane, DeAvion Hubbard, Samantha Davis, Simone Anderson, Norma Chew, Roslyn Viterbo, Katrece Freeman, and Clara Hernandez.
CAST: Chester Gregory as Jackie Wilson
COMMUNITY PARTNERS & SUPPORTERS: Mercedes Benz of Cutler Bay, Hispanicize Wire, Star 102.1, MyAct Dance Studio, Michael J. Brink Foundation, Justine Karl, Craytive Consulting Group, EarthSave Miami and special thanks to Brigitte Keane, the Jones Theatre Family, and Jeffrey M. Tucker; with the support of the City of Homestead, Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners.
“The Eve of Jackie” is a party with a purpose. The event is slated as a fundraiser to allow at least 20,000 students free tickets to see the annual performance of “I Have A Dream” the Broadway musical on the life and times of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “I Have A Dream” teaches about an American icon’s life, nonviolence in protests, morality, and the lessons of freedom for everyone.
Our goal is for 200 companies to each sponsor 100 students. $2000 sponsors 100 children. Sponsors will be invited to a glamorous gala event at the Arsht Center. As a sponsor you will also receive verbal recognition at each performance, promotion on our website, a full page advertisement in “The Eve of Jackie” playbill, photo opportunity with cast/celebrities, and VIP seating for 10 people at one of the performances.
“The Eve of Jackie” will run from Monday Oct. 12 – Sunday Oct. 25, 2015 at the Adrienne Arsht Center with performances at 7:30 pm each night. Tickets are $50 for regular performances and $150 for the Gala night. Tickets may be purchased online at www.theatresouthatlanta.org or at the TheatreSouth 4 th Street Playhouse (Phichol Williams Community Center), 951 S.W. 4th Street, Homestead, Florida 33030. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 305.924.3003. Visit www.theatresouthatlanta.org for more information