A deserved hit in its Uptown premiere at the Black Ensemble Theater last spring, Doo Wop Shoo Bop is now receiving a two-night revival at Navy Pier. Like all of Black Ensemble’s cultural reclamation efforts, this one doesn’t just celebrate its subject–African-American doo-wop groups and pop stars of the 1950s–or go for easy nostalgia. Jackie Taylor’s script and staging reconnect the El Dorados and the Mills Brothers, Dinah Washington’s classic barn burners and Laverne Baker’s stolen successes, to a mainstream musical establishment that both nourished and exploited their slinky harmonies and bluesy ballads. Taylor communicates the price paid for these deceptively mellow hits, revealing the creators who didn’t become celebrities and the royalties that weren’t paid. But historical regrets aside, Doo Wop Shoo Bop is also a damn fun time: Jimmy Tillman’s musical direction virtually reinvents the songs. What the show may lose in intimacy on the spacious Skyline Stage, it ought to gain in big, happy audiences. Navy Pier Skyline Stage, 600 E. Grand, 559-1212. June 22 and 23: Thursday-Friday, 7:30 PM. $12.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Roger Lewin–Jennifer Girard Studio.