Arts & Entertainment
MUSICAL BIO OF JACKIE WILSON
SHOWS THE MOTOWN GREAT
AS TALENTED, ERRATIC
AND MAYBE JEWISH.
Special to the Jewish News
owntown Detroit will rock again with
old-time Motown music Feb. 4-9, as
The Jackie Wilson Story (My Heart Is
Crying, Crying) makes its local debut at
Detroit's Music Hall Center for the Performing
A high-energy musical depicting the rise and fall
of the legendary Motown performer, the show
portrays Wilson as a versatile singer who liked to
think and act like he was Jewish — and perhaps
Wilson, one of the first R&B vocalists to make
the leap to rock 'n' roll success, was also regarded
as one of the first great soul singers. From his first
hit song, "Reet Petite," in 1957, to his death at
the age of 49 in 1984, Wilson, dubbed "Mr.
Excitement," was admired and emulated by many
of his contemporaries.
But, despite his success, his dynamic life ended
in misery and tragedy.
In The Jackie Wilson Story, a cast of 12 actors
and seven musicians performs 25 songs from the
late 1950s and early 1960s, including such Wilson
hits as "Lonely Teardrops," "(Your Love Keeps
Liftin' Me) Higher & Higher," "Baby Workout"
and "Doggin' Me Around."
The show comes to Detroit at an opportune
time for the Detroit Metro Convention and
Visitors Bureau, which is launching a new cam-
paign to showcase the Motown legacy. Spurred on
by two recent movies that publicized the city and
its performers and music, 8 Mile (with rap singer
Eminem) and Standing in the Shadows of Motown
(about the Funk Brothers, the Motown backup
band), the bureau is pushing for the expansion of
Motown museums and historic landmarks and the
distribution of memorabilia on famous Motown
Wilson On Stage
The Jackie Wilson Story is staged by the Black
Ensemble Theater Co. of Chicago (BET), which
has had more than 100 productions in 26 years, in
a joint venture with the newly formed BET
Touring Venture, headed by 45-year-old entertain-
ment entrepreneur Brian Kabatznick of Chicago.
A former ticket industry executive, Kabatznick,
who calls himself a "devout Conservative" Jew,
handles the show's business and marketing.
The show was written, produced and directed by
Jackie Taylor, BET founder and executive director.
"The audience will be uplifted and inspired by this
story," she said. "I want them to leave the theater
humming and dancing."
Jackie Wilson: Wo one could sing My Yiddishe
Mama' better than Jackie," says Simon Rutberg,
Wilson's close friend and the owner of Hatikvah
Music Store in the heavily Jewish Failfax Ave.
section of Los Angeles.