Majestic Star Casino and Hotel has something fun in store on stage this month.
The cast of kids, now all grown-up, from the hit CBS sitcom "Good Times," are doing a stage show for one-night at Majestic Star in Gary.
The TV series was created by Norman Lear, as a spin-off of Lear's hit show "Maude" that starred Bea Arthur as the title character, which happened to be a spin-off of "All in the Family," since Maude was the cousin of Edith Bunker, played by Jean Stapleton.
"Good Times," which ran from 1974 to 1979, was about Florida Evans, played by the late, great Esther Rolle, recreating the housekeeper character who originally worked for Maude.
For our stage appearance, it will be Jimmie "JJ" Walker, Bern Nadette Stanis, who played sister Thelma Evans and Ralph Carter, who starred as youngest brother Michael Evans, reuniting on stage for what I'm told will be a Q&A session, sharing behind-the-scenes memories and lots of comedy. There are two performance, 7 and 9:30 p.m. April 20 and tickets are $15. FYI: (888) 225-8259 or majesticstarcasino.com. Since the shows are in the casino, all guests must be 21 and older with ID. This comedy stage space is located on the third floor in the special events space of Majestic Star Casino Boat II, One Buffington Harbor Drive.
Walker, who did his popular solo comedy show for audiences at Majestic Star last October, began his career as a stand-up comic. Walker was originally spotted by the casting director to appear in "All in the Family." But his personality and unique brand of comedy made him a perfect fit for Lear's new urban-styled comedy series "Good Times," spotlighting the strutting, wisecracking J.J. Evans and his always-uttered catchphrase "Dyn-o-mite."
While Stanis is still associated with playing the sister who could put "JJ" in his place, earlier, she had attended Juilliard School, but during her sophomore year, decided to pursue a television career. Later, she made appearances on "The Cosby Show" and "What's Happening Now." Today, she's also an accomplished author with two published books: "Situation 101: The Good the Bad & the Ugly" and "For Men Only."
Long before Carter was cast as baby brother Michael to JJ and Thelma, he was already a child star performing on Broadway in the musical "Raisin," (based on "A Raisin in the Sun") earning him a Tony Award as well as a Drama Desk Award for the Most Promising Performer in the musical "Dude." He is now a playwright, having authored a play called "Grandma’s Hands," drawing from the personal inspiration from the women in his life. Carter has also pursued a musical career having released top singles and top of the chart albums.
It's only too bad that singer Janet Jackson, who began her entertainment career playing the family's next door neighbor Penny Woods, couldn't make it back to our Region for this reunion, especially since it would mean a return to her family's hometown Gary.
Since "Good Times" was set in Chicago, with the family living in the Cabrini–Green housing projects, it always included plenty of local landmark references like the department store Marshall Field's.