Singer, Dancer and Recording Artist Chester Gregory comes back home to reprise his role as Jackie Wilson in a new tribute production at West Side Theatre Guild and Bartlett’s starts Third Thursday with Johnny V music nights at the Beverly Shores roadhouse.
Chester Gregory Brings Back Jackie Wilson: Chester Gregory was probably still in high school the first time I saw him perform in “The Jackie Wilson Story,” a production of Black Ensemble Theater at the group’s home base on Beacon Street in Chicago, near the fringe of Uptown and Lakeview, long since gentrified. He was a knockout. I had missed the sensational premier of the show in 2000 held at The Regal ---- where Jackie Wilson had performed back in the day --- but Chester Gregory, a student at Emerson’s School of Visual and Performing Arts, was amazing in the role from the start. (He got a Jeff award for his performance and toured with the production after that.) Gregory went on to graduate from Columbia College in Chicago during that time. The Jackie Wilson Story had a New York run and though the reviews of the show were tepid, the star got raves. Roles in major Broadway musicals starting in 2005-6 followed Gregory’s New York debut. The first was “Tarzan,” which I saw in previews---the show had lots of acrobats but not much of a story---and then the mega-hits: “Hairspray,” “Shrek,” “Dreamgirls” and most recently “Sister Act.” Since then Gregory has been in New York or on the road for most of the last decade. Though he comes home to visit his family every few months, he has not performed here in quite a while.
But he will be Friday night at the West Side Theatre Guild when he stars in “The Eve of Jackie,” a show he created, wrote and produced about the day before Jackie Wilson collapsed on stage in 1975 during a concert. Gregory calls in a “tribute.” (Wilson fell into a coma which lasted nine years before he died January 21, 1984.) Chester Gregory is also a recording star, as Eloise Valadez wrote in a profile for our Times’ GO! section this week. You can check that out here. But if you have the chance to see Chester Gregory perform live, I strongly urge you to do it. He is a natural, Gary native superstar, much like his idol Michael Jackson.
"The Eve of Jackie" will be presented by The West Side Theatre Guild at 7 p.m. Friday at The West Side Theatre, 900 Gerry St., Gary. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Tickets can be purchased online at eventbrite.com or call (219) 791-3513.
The Spring Menu is Ready in Beverly Shores: Bartlett’s Gourmet Grill and Tavern will host the first of a series of live music Third Thursdays with Johnny V. The festivities start at 6 pm (CT) tonight. The deluxe roadhouse with outstanding food by Executive Chef Gary Sanders (sometimes accompanied by well-known Dunes Princes Ian Marcel and Luc the Younger Sanders) and service and a menu full of craft beers, wines by the glass and special cocktails for spring, is also scheduling an Easter Brunch and dinner for Sunday beginning at 11 am.