It's All-Right To Have A Good Time: The Story of Curtis Mayfield
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★★½ " Jackie Taylor's 'Curtis Mayfield Story' most certainly does honor the music of the man some called the black Bob Dylan — although, as this show points out, you could argue just as well that Dylan was the white Curtis Mayfield. And whereas Dylan was born in Minnesota and emerged in New York, Mayfield was raised in Chicago's Cabrini-Green housing projects, went to New York to further his career and came back to Chicago, running his Curtom Records label (with Eddie Thomas) from 1 N. Wacker Drive in the early 1960s, becoming one of the first African-American performers to run his own label and anchoring that which was known as Chicago Soul. Detroit had Motown. Memphis had Stax records. Chicago had Mayfield and his genius. Mayfield's music holds up extraordinarily well, both in its formative experimentation and in the complexity of its lyrics, never mind its famous permissiveness when it comes to asserting it is all right to have a good time. We all need to know that. The life and times of Mayfield really matter in Chicago. Part of the problem here — common at this theater, to be frank — is that the story ends up unfolding almost entirely in the past tense: I did that, then I did that, then this happened to me. Successful jukebox musicals like "Jersey Boys" or even "Motown: The Musical" move forward in time, allowing fans to watch the lives of their heroes unfold before them. Taylor has to force herself to dramatize more scenes, rather than rely so much on description and narration, which tends to impede the inherent drama that you can find in a remarkable life lived by someone like Mayfield." -Chris Jones