This week Paul goes behind the curtain with two great Chicago area shows. Leading off the show is Black Ensembles Theater’s current production: Jackie Taylor’s “It’s Just Like Coming to Church.” This show is unlike the traditional grand often biographic shows presented by BET. This show kicks off a season of healing and joy by addressing some crucial issues being dealt with in society today. From stress and anxiety to transgender issues, this show tackles issues more directly than any previous BET show. Of course, BET has always been at the forefront of tough societal issues as it works towards its mission of eradicating racism in our lifetime, but show will resonate differently. Joining in the conversation is BET Founder and playwright of “Coming to Church,” Jackie Taylor, and joining Jackie is long time BET star Dawn Bless and “Coming to Church” star MJ Rawls who brings the topic of trans issues front and center in a powerful and meaningful performance. The show runs thru April 24th and tickets are available at www.blackensemble.org or by calling the box office at: 773-769-4451. You can watch the interview above or listen to the interview below.

Next up in the show is the current Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre production of “Once Upon a Mattress.” It’s been quite a while since anyone has produced this classic show that gave comedienne Carol Burnett her big break and stardom, but Theo Ubique does the unexpected. In casting requirements that allow whoever performs the role best, we see actors playing gender and race perhaps not original to the original cast. But who cares because it shows that Chicago is well aware that 2022 is a new world and opens our eyes to the world of possibilities. Joining in the conversation are three main cast members: Sonia Goldberg (who plays Princess Winifred, the Carol Burnette role for those who want to make the connection), August Forman who plays the role of Prince Dauntless, and Anne Sheridan smith who plays Queen Aggravain.” Odds are you have never seen this show before, and this is a great way to be introduced to it, which tells the age-old story of the Princess and the Pea. It’s a great family show, but one adults will get at a very different level. The production runs through May 1st and tickets may be purchased at www.Theo-u.com. You can listen to the interview below.