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Black Excellence Revue Returns to The Second City

The Black Excellence Revue Returns to The Second City in 2024

CHICAGO, IL – The 2024 Black Excellence Revue, titled Black By Popular Demand, is a groundbreaking comedy experience presented by The Second City. Back to banish the winter blues and fill the Windy City with laughter and good vibes, this show opens February 9, 2024, and runs through May 25, 2024.

Following up the completely sold-out engagement in 2023, Rob Wilson returns to direct this year’s revue, bringing together a dynamic cast of future stars, showcasing their hilarity with new songs, sketches, and the world-renowned style of improv that has become synonymous with The Second City. At The Black Excellence Revue, the audience is part of the show, echoing the vibrant ambiance of The Apollo.

Featuring an all BIPOC cast and crew, the production welcomes back cast members Arlieta Hall and Adonis Holmes. Devonte Washington returns as Stage Manager. The Second City is thrilled to welcome aboard the newest additions to the cast Breanna Ghostone, Samuel B. Jackson, Deshawn Mason and Faith Valerie. Tony Santiago joins as Associate Director and Sean Sykes joins as Musical Director. The rest of the crew includes Brenden Marble (Lighting Designer), Breon Arzell (Choreographer) and Chelsey Carter (Stylist).

The producing team includes Bryon Henderson (Producer), Elizabeth Howard (VP of Production) and Jen Ellison (Artistic Director). The Black Excellence Revue’s commitment to showcasing diversity in comedy is celebrated in the show’s blend of new original material, classic hits, and improvised mayhem reflecting a broad spectrum of experiences and perspectives that promises to engage, entertain, and delight audiences.

Performances take the stage on Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm for 16 weeks. Last year’s run was entirely sold out, so audiences are encouraged to book their tickets early.

Tickets start at $29.00 and are available by phone at 312-337-3992 or online at secondcity.com.

Meet the Cast:

BREANNA GHOSTONE (Ensemble) is a multi-talented artist, represented by Gray Talent Group, known for her versatility in singing, acting, and dancing. She holds a Master’s degree in Opera and Musical Theatre Performance from Arizona State University and previously earned a Bachelor’s degree in Opera Performance from The University of Michigan. Breanna has left her mark in the world of musical theater, with notable performances in productions like Hairspray (Power Center for Performing Arts), Legally Blonde The Musical (Evelyn Smith Theatre), West Side Story (The Phoenix Theatre Company), Sing Out Second City (The Second City), New Faces Sing Broadway 1947 (Porchlight Theatre), and Trouble in Mind (TimeLine Theatre). Beyond the stage, Breanna has delved into the realm of on-camera work, contributing to educational industrials for respected companies such as Verizon Wireless and McGraw Hill. She is deeply passionate about supporting black film projects, having been involved in endeavours like The Detroit Project and The FUNNEL, both of which explore themes of black love, displacement, and resilience. Additionally, Breanna has showcased her talent in the commercial world, featuring in advertisements for well-known brands like Gatorade and AutoZone, and more recently, Crunch Fitness. Her versatility and dedication to the arts make her a dynamic and impactful presence in the entertainment industry. Breanna is thrilled to be back at Second City for the Black Excellence Revue!

ARLIETA HALL (Ensemble) is a host, actress, improviser, stand-up comedian, writer, and a first-time filmmaker from Chicago. She is a one of The Second City NBC Bob Curry Fellowship 2021 recipients. Arlieta also co-starred as Sadie on Showtime’s The CHI episodic and is a co-producer of the comedy variety show My Best Friend is Black. Arlieta was a caregiver for her father who died from Alzheimer’s disease. She took the power of “Yes, and…” to communicate with him and used their story to make her first feature documentary “Finding Your Laughter”. Her film was one of ten documentaries selected to participate in The New York Gotham Documentary Feature Lab, which is one of the US film industry’s most prestigious labs. Prior to caregiving for her father Arlieta was an Human Services Caseworker for the State Of Illinois Department of Human Services . Arlieta also obtained her Bachelor of Arts In Communications and has over a decade of experience in the educational and social services field. She recently wrote and performed in The Second City’s sold-out 2023 Black Excellence Revue and is now a 2023-24 Sisters in Cinema Documentary Fellow. She is currently performing comedy all around while she continues to work on the completion of Finding Your Laughter and other projects. Follow Arlieta and catch her around the city at www.findingyourlaughter.com www.arlietahall.com and @Arlieta_Hall_ on social media.

ADONIS HOLMES (Ensemble) is a Writer, Performer, and Comedian out of Chicago. Adonis graduated from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelors in Psychology and Anthropology. Having produced, directed, and written several shows in the Champaign-Urbana community, he started taking improv classes and regularly performing at the iO Theater. Adonis has been featured in several sketch shows throughout the city, including Chicago Sketch Fest and the Best of Annoyance sketch show, along with being a principal writer and performer for Second City’s Dance Like There are Black People Watching: A Black Excellence Revue. Currently Adonis is a member of Devil’s Daughter Improv, the independent improv team The Mermaids, a 2022 Bob Curry Fellow, and serves as Director and Co-creator of the all-Black improv show, Satirical Race Theory. Adonis also serves as Co-Artistic Director of the iO Theater.

SAMUEL B. JACKSON (Ensemble) is excited to be making his comedy debut at The Second City! He’s performed on several stages across Chicago, including Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Northlight Theatre, and the Black Ensemble Theatre. Proudly repped by Stewart Talent, you can find him on IG @samuelbjackson

DESHAWN MASON (Ensemble) Born in New York City, raised in the South. Deshawn started his comedic journey over 11 years ago in Charleston, SC. His first foray into the art form was stand-up comedy. Now over a decade into the process, Deshawn has performed nationwide. Hitting multiple stages for comedy festivals, headlining gigs, and anything he can sink his teeth into. Deshawn’s love and exploration truly in Savannah, GA in 2021, just two years later, and over 300 different improv shows he’s excited to share what he’s learned. He’s also an aficionado of Magic, Sketch Comedy, Acting, food, and conversation. He can’t wait to meet you.

FAITH VALERIE (Ensemble) is an actress, writer, dancer, singer, and model from Plainfield, IL. Her Second City career began while she was taking improv classes last year, during which she became an understudy for Dance Like There Are Black People Watching. She attended the University of Notre Dame, with a focus in Musical Theatre, as well as studied dance at Illinois Dance Academy and Revolution Dance Studio. She has school ties to two people in the show, guess who?! She is an accomplished model having photographed campaigns for Nike and walking runway shows for many designers in Chicago and New York. She loves her 7 siblings who are funnier than her, her parents, and nieces and nephews very much. She is also a House music head, and you can find her following her DJ friends around the city. You can also find her playing with improv groups Crop-Top Comedy and Hot Girl Comedy and on Instagram @faithvaleriee. She is represented by 10MGMT with a partnership from Grossman & Jack Talent.

Meet the Crew:

BREON ARZELL (Choreographer) is a dedicated teaching artist, specializing in hip-hop, jazz, contemporary, lyrical and body percussion; and serves as mentor to several universities, studios and theaters. Chicago: How Blood Go (Congo Square Theatre), Dance Like Black People are Watching (Second City), Kill Move Paradise* (TimeLine Theatre), The Color Purple (Drury Lane), The Wiz, Head Over Heels*, American Psycho (Kokandy Productions), The Total Bent* (Haven Theatre), The House That Will Not Stand (Victory Gardens), Marie Christine, The Scottsboro Boys, Little Shop of Horrors, The Hairy Ape* and more. Regional: Dreamgirls (Goodspeed Musicals), RENT & The Color Purple (MUNY), FELA! & Miss You Like Hell (Olney Theatre), Once on This Island (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Acoustic Rooster (Kennedy Center). TV: South Side, The 4400. While working internationally, he is listed among the ‘50 Players for Chicago’ (2018, 2020, 2023), and recipient of 6 Jeff Awards*. Along with developing original works, he is restoring and reviving a historical black musical. @breonarzell // www.breonarzell.com

CHELSEY CARTER (Stylist) native to Saint Louis MO, moved to Chicago in 2006 in efforts of pursuing her dreams to become a well-known designer. She applied and was accepted to The Art Institute – Chicago. Chelsey focuses on the abstract for inspiration for her designs. Her brand, Alex Carter which she launched in 2015, is unisex, catering to customers who are

risktaking and statement-making. Her goal is to exude sensuality in her clothing without having to bare it all. One of her biggest role models is her grandmother, who embodies everything she strives to be as a woman and feeds her drive as a designer. Her jackets can be seen on SZA and Chance the Rapper, and she has sold to Erykah Badu. She has been featured in Vogue Italia and many other magazines such as Verluxe, SunTimes and Tribune. The Alex Carter brand is known for creating everyday clothes for not so everyday people.

BRENDEN MARBLE (Lighting Designer) Is excited to be coming back to Second City! After studying theater design at Eastern Michigan University, the Detroit MI native moved to Chicago to start living their dream of becoming a lighting designer! Recent credits include A Hit Dog Will Holler (Artemisia Theatre), Fairview (Definition Theater), Currents (Chicago Fringe Opera), and Dance Like There Are Black People Watching (Second City Chicago) Even though his career is just beginning, he knows this is something he wants to do for the rest of his life.

TONY SANTIAGO (Associate Director) is a creative engineer centering technology to help connect people to the arts. Santiago manages Arts + Public Life’s Performance Residency and teaches the Community Actor’s Program for high-school-aged youth at Green Line Performance Arts Center in Washington Park. Professional credits include Community Data Manager for We Will Chicago with Honey Pot Performance, Spinning Home Movies with the South Side Home Movie Project Producer, and Editor and Technical Director of the Rapid Response Series with Illinois Humanities. Tony currently sits on the board of the Katherine Dunham Center in East Saint Louis. When not working, Tony enjoys cooking, biking, and watching movies on the big screen.

SEAN SYKES (Musical Director) is excited to be behind the keys playing live shows again! Sean has done musical direction for the Second City e.t.c. Mainstage, and Touring Company as well as the Bob Curry and NBC universal showcases. Sean earned a bachelor’s in music education at the University of Mississippi and is happily still using that amazing diploma to teach fourth grade music at the University of Chicago laboratory schools in Hyde Park. Sean gives a special thanks to producers, the amazing cast, everyone behind the scenes, and you our audience members. Enjoy the show!

DEVONTE E. WASHINGTON (Stage Manager) is a Chicago native built up his skills in Backstage production. He has molded his skills by learning the aspects of designing and building shows from scratch he found his home in Theater. His Talents have been used with many events, venues and shows throughout the city. Getting better with every show he wants to continue to get better at what he does while continuously learning more and more. This will be his second time working on the Black Excellence Show and he is excited for you to see this show.

ROB WILSON (Director) is so proud of this amazing cast and crew. He made his Second City Directorial debut with SuperAfroWavyDrippy-ExtraBrillantDope Show. He has since directed Dance Like There are Black People Watching here and created the film projects Lil Monsters and The Basement Rob is repped by Stewart Talent and you can see what he’s working on at his IG @Rob_Willsun.

Purchase Tickets the the 2024 Black Excellence Revue!


SNL Diversity Scholarship Returns to The Second City for 2022

The Second City is thrilled to announce that the SNL Diversity Scholarship is now seeking talent for its second group of awardees. Applications are being accepted through April 1, 2022 at 5pm CST for this one-of-a-kind opportunity in partnership with Saturday Night Live. The scholarship grants students at varying levels of experience the opportunity to further their professional development. Comedians with diverse life experiences, including varying cultural and economic backgrounds, orientation, ethnicities, and points of view, are encouraged to apply. In addition to receiving Second City performance and writing training, recipients will be able to submit an audition tape or writing packet to SNL. Interested talent can apply here. 

“We’re so grateful for the continued support of SNL as we get ready to welcome our second group of up-and-coming talent. This opportunity was one of the best things to come out of the pandemic at Second City, and we can’t wait to meet our sophomore group of talent,” said Abby Wagner, Vice President of Customer Success at The Second City. 

The SNL Diversity Scholarship was first announced in 2020 to an unprecedented response. After the review of more than 1300 applications, four artists were selected for the inaugural program: Alexi Bolden, Gabriela “Gabi” Castillo, Kaili Y. Turner, and Morgan Van Dyne. Their work will be featured in The SNL Diversity Scholarship Show on April 8th in the Blackout Cabaret. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at secondcity.com or via the Box Office by calling (312) 337-3992. 


The Bob Curry Fellowship Showcase Returns!

The Bob Curry Fellowship Showcase returns for its seventh year in Chicago! This evening of laughter features up-and-coming talent putting their twist on classic Second City scenes in a two-act performance full of surprises. Named for Second City’s first African American resident stage alumnus Bob Curry, the prestigious program is an opportunity to cultivate the best and brightest new voices in comedy and highlight their talent in the program’s culminating performance.

[ Meet the 2021 Cast & Crew ]

4 More Performances:

October 5th, 12th, 19th & 26th @ 8:00 P.M.

The Second City e.t.c. Theater

Get Tickets


We are proud to present the seventh generation of Bob Curry Fellows. Established in 2014 and named for Second City’s first African American resident stage alumnus, the Bob Curry Fellowship encourages diverse voices to pursue careers in comedy at The Second City and beyond. The professional development master program sponsored by NBC allows artists from diverse multicultural backgrounds to train and study at Second City tuition-free. During the ten-week program, fellows work closely with Second City instructors and alumni to cover topics including improv, acting, writing, satire, musical improv, comedy history, and more. The program culminates with The Bob Curry Fellowship Showcase, a celebration of the best and brightest new voices in comedy. This evening of laughter features new twists on classic Second City scenes in a two-act performance full of surprises, improvisation, and undeniable new talent.

Find out more about Bob Curry and the Bob Curry Fellowship.


The Second City’s Second Takes

Eddie Mujica is an alum of Chicago’s e.t.c. Stage. Follow him on Twitter: @mooheekah

Robyn Heller is now appearing in Live Rude Girls at Second City Hollywood.

Aimee Ambroziak is a member of Toronto-based Second City Touring Company.

Sayjal Joshi is an ensemble member in The Second City e.t.c.’s 41st revue Fantastic Super Great Nation Numero Uno.


Previous Second Takes

June’s Second Takes

May’s Second Takes


The Second City’s Second Takes


Brandon Hackett is an ensemble member in The Second City Toronto’s Mainstage revue Everything Is Great Again.

Andrew Knox is an ensemble member in The Second City e.t.c.’s 41st revue Fantastic Super Great Nation Numero Uno.

Punam Patel is an alum of Chicago’s e.t.c. Stage and can currently be seen in Freeform’s ‘Time for Bed with Punam Patel.’

Jay Pichardo is now appearing in HisPanic Attack at Second City Hollywood and is part of the sketch comedy duo SlyChum.

Previous Second Takes

May’s Second Takes

April’s Second Takes


The Second City’s Second Takes

SC_Social_Second_Takes_05-2017_1270x1000_003 (1)

Alan Linic is an ensemble member in The Second City e.t.c.’s 41st revue Fantastic Super Great Nation Numero Uno.

Roxana Altamirano is now appearing in HisPanic Attack at Second City Hollywood.

Ann Pornel is an ensemble member in The Second City Toronto’s Mainstage revue Everything Is Great Again.

John Hartman is a two-time Chicago Mainstage alum who’s been all over the 2016-17 TV season, appearing in Trial & Error, The Good Place, Scorpion and 2 Broke Girls.


The Second City’s Second Takes

SC_Social_Second_Takes_04-2017_1270x1000_003 (1)

Shantira Jackson is an ensemble member in The Second City’s 105th Mainstage revue The Winner…Of Our Discontent.

Jennifer Polonia Garcia is now appearing in HisPanic Attack at Second City Hollywood and is part of the sketch comedy duo SlyChum.

Sharjil Rasool is a member of Toronto-based Second City Touring Company.

Chris Witaske is an alum of Chicago’s e.t.c. Stage and can currently be seen in Love, now in Season 2 on Netflix.


Bill Murray Live from the Second City

Bill Murray’s monologue from “Bill Murray Live from the Second City.” (1980)

Cast: Danny Breen, Marry Gross, Bruce Jarchow, Tim Kazurinsky, Nancy McCabe-Kelly, Rob Riley, and George Wendt
Hosted By: Bill Murray
Musical Director: Fred Kaz


The Faux Pearls

Faux Pearls is from the 72nd Second City Revue “It was 30 Years Ago Today.”

Ensemble: Chris Farley, Joe Liss, Tim Meadows, Tim O’Malley, Judith Scott, and Holly Wortell and David Pasquesi
Director: Nate Herman
Music Director: Ruby Streak
Stage Manager: Craig Taylor
Executive Producer: Andrew Alexander
Producer: Joyce Sloane
Opening Night: October 10th, 1989


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