Los Angeles Times

'The Marvin Gaye Story' ✭✭✭

This show is a significant step forward for director Jackie Taylor and her company in its gorgeous new venue. Black Ensemble, to paraphrase the song title, belatedly has got it on. As with most of Black Ensemble's self-produced shows, "The Marvin Gaye Story" tells the story of an African-American artist and accompanies the biographical nuggets with high-octane live performances of the subject's biggest hits. So it goes here. You can't celebrate the life and work of Marvin Gaye (played by a studied Rashawn Thompson) without delivering some "Sexual Healing." But this show also goes much deeper, fearlessly delving into a very troubled life. That's thanks in part to some powerful acting from Yahdina Udeen (who plays Gaye's long-suffering mother) and Donald Barnes, an unstinting Marvin Sr., who shot the singer dead in 1984. Gaye was a complex performer, and he's very well-served here. -- Chris JonesThrough July 29 at Black Ensemble Theatre, 4450 N. Clark St.; $55-$65 at 773-769-4451 or ticketmaster.com
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