|Dennis Spears in a previous production of Black Nativity|
But it's not just the music. Interspersed with the songs, Penumbra's Founder and Co-Artistic Director Lou Bellamy reads the Nativity story from the Gospel according to Langston Hughes. Text flows into music and back to text again. Dancers Taylor Collier and Randall Riley portrayed Mary and Joseph in a few dance numbers that are a highlight, so graceful and expressive of the emotions of the young couple (choreography by Uri Sands). All of the elements (including the awesome five-piece onstage band directed by Sanford Moore) combine to create an uplifting and inspirational experience. And even though the specifics of the theology presented may not match my own personal theology, I can still join in the rejoicing and the hope that this world can be better than it is, that we can be better than we are.
Whether you've never seen it before, or you've seen it dozens of times*, Black Nativity is a must for this holiday season, a true celebration of "love and light." Get yourself to St. Paul's Penumbra Theatre between now and December 20 to take part in this joyful noise!
*I was talking to my friends and fellow bloggers from Minnesota Theater Love, and it sounds like Black Nativity has gone through quite an evolution over the years. Read more about that here.