Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe invites the community to celebrate the holiday season with Black Nativity, an inspirational gospel musical – originally penned by poet/playwright Langston Hughes – that retells the biblical Nativity story. The music is combined with dance, poetry and narrative to deliver a message of joy, hope, victory and liberation.
Children and adults of all ages, races and backgrounds will be enthralled by this high-energy, theatrical wonderment. The show will enjoy a limited run on December 12, 13, 19, 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the Sarasota Opera House (61 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota).
Black Nativity returns to the WBTT stage by popular demand: the production enjoyed sold-out runs in 2014 and 2016. The music is a celebratory mash-up of gospel, blues, spiritual and Christmas music, paired with the poetry of Hughes and the creativity of the Westcoast Black Theatre. Nate Jacobs, WBTT’s founder and artistic director, adapted, is directing, and will perform in the show.
“This show is our Christmas card of the season. Our previous presentations infused joy and inspiration into the holiday season while staying true to our mission of promoting and celebrating the African-American experience,” said Jacobs. “Langston Hughes was dedicated to telling real-life stories of the African-American people and I know audiences here in Sarasota have been inspired, regardless of their race. We’re thrilled to be able to bring the production to even larger audiences at the Sarasota Opera House.”
The show was first performed off-Broadway in 1961 – it was one of the first plays written by an African American to be staged there. Black Nativity is performed annually in cities across the country, including Atlanta, Chicago, Boston and Seattle, and was made into a film, with numerous African-American stars including Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson and Jennifer Hudson, in 2013.
In addition to directing, Jacobs will perform in the show; vocal powerhouse Tarra Conner jones returns for the third time to reprise her role as the “Archangel.” A number of popular Troupe members will be featured in the production, including Earley Dean, Syreeta Banks, Donald Frison, Derric Gobourne Jr., and Todd Bellamy, II. A number of newcomers to the Troupe are performing as well.
Assistant director and choreographer is Donald Frison, stage manager is Travis Ray, assistant stage manager is Arnette German, production manager is James E. Dodge II, set designer is Michael Newton-Brown, lighting designer is Michael Pasquini, sound designer is Patrick Russini, tech director is Shane Streight, property master is Annette Breazeale, and costume manager is Adrienne Pitts.
“Black Nativity is the perfect holiday offering for the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe,” said executive director Julie Leach. “Material like this enhances our ability to teach, uplift, engage and entertain – with Black Nativity we can accomplish all of those in about two hours.”
Tickets are $15-$75. Call the Box Office at 941-366-1505 or go to westcoastblacktheatre.org.