CHICAGO--It will be a blast from the past to reassure the present. On May 8, Duke Ellington's landmark 1963 musical My People, which pays tribute to the progress of African-Americans in the century after the ending of slavery, will be performed in Chicago for the first time in 35 years. Loosely based on Ellington's 1943 musical Black, Brown and Beige, the work was written especially for the 1963 Century of Negro Progress Exposition in Chicago, which commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Emanicipation Proclamation and the ongoing civil rights struggle. The occasion is a benefit for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of Illinois, the presenter is Ellington '98 and the locale is the New Regal Theatre, 1645 E. 79th St., the South Side's restored music palace. For information call 312-288-3853.
-- By Lawrence Bommer