Dominion Entertainment Group is bringing the adaptation of Black Nativity to abounding life for its sixth victorious season. It’s a classical twist, the rebirth of Mary and Joseph as they venture faithfully through the town of Bethlehem, awaiting the birth of Jesus Christ.
In The Black Nativity: A Gospel Christmas Experience, the acts split into two periods of BC (Before Christ) and the now, in a church setting, and things are not as simple as it was back then. However, what could be simpler than a virgin giving birth to the omnipotent redeemer of the world.
The cabaret kicks off with majestic panache on November 30, 2018Ferst Center for the Arts, 349 Ferst Dr NW, Atlanta, GA 30332.
When critically acclaimed playwright, Langston Hughes, premiered Black Nativity, it became one of the first Off-Broadway productions written by a black man on December 11, 1961, making its first run around the world. It toured Europe in 1962.
It also displayed at the Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds in Italy.
Within the same time-frame, The Freedom Riders took their last trip on December 10, 1961, one day before Black Nativity opened for its Broadway debut. However, in two different atmospheres, the occurrences happened. Either way, the blacks considered the spiritual musical a win. It was the end of an era and a revival of another. It was indeed a win for black culture as a whole.
In celebrating that magnificent achievement, it’s important for cast members to keep the production beautifully authentic as the first time Langston Hughes presented it, thoughtfully and vibrantly through art.
According to Latrice Pace, “We pay homage simply by honoring and reverencing what’s already been written, and not feeling like because I’m created, it’s going to be better than what’s already been written. We can embellish a little bit even with the songs and many of our lines. The director pretty much makes it known, to do it as it is written. It’s perfect already. You can add your creative parts but don’t make it something that it was never intended to be.”
Zebullon Ellis said, “The greatest thing about Langston Hughes, it [Black Nativity] called for a piece of everyone’s creative spirit to come out. It doesn’t matter what person plays the character, [and] it doesn’t matter what person plays any kind of role in it. He calls for the creative spirit out of each person, and because the cast changes slightly every year, it causes for that person. Rob does a great job with that, [getting] the right person for the right role. He and Keith Wilson choose the right person for the right song, and that’s how you honor someone, who has created anything. The way you honor them is to make sure the right person is doing it, and moving in the right spirit. They go with things to find the right way to express what it is they are trying to express to their audience. That is the way I think we can honor Langston Hughes, and what he has called us to create."
“Well, I’ll just confirm what Latrice and Zebulon said,” Q Parker chimed in like the bashful younger brother waiting his turn. “The best thing to pay homage for anything that’s come before you is to live it in its truest form. I think we’ve done a great job of that. The creators, Robert Connor, Keith Wilson... as Patrice said, we keep it as authentic as possible with a little bit of being able to live in it a little bit, but making sure the true essence of black nativity is displayed.”
With a deliberate display of endowments, the all-star cast will tell the story about Jesus Christ while using dramatic choreography and divine gospel music. The play will open under the direction of award-winning actor, singer producer and director, Robert John Connor, Founder of Dominion Entertainment Group; and led by man for all seasons, Keith Wilson; with step sequence instructor, Dawn Axam.
The glittering entertainers, Latrice Pace and Zebulon Ellis agree that the Black Nativity: Christmas Musical Experience is an important chunk of Black Culture because it’s a story of spirituality, Christ and hope.
According to Ellis, "People will be extremely surprised with this production, especially with the dancing. “I think you won’t get a full cast doing as much in any other play as you will in Black Nativity. You have a lot of that going on in Broadway but coming from what this is, and where this comes from, the story of it, you just won’t get a lot of this. So, it’s going to surprise people to see even a big guy like me get up there and move like I’m going to move.”
“I would agree,” Pace echoed. “I would say the dancing as well as the singing—I know the show is cast because we have to have very strong singers, but I think people will be surprised at the voices coming out of the bodies, that will be represented there. It’s somehow unbelievable.”
Pace went on to share there the consistency behind the intrepid and vibrant dance moves, coupled with the singing, is the electrifying component bringing the ensemble together.
“People, they come looking to be entertained, and to experience a show. You will leave entertained, but you will also leave inspired, and not really thinking you’re going to get ministered to, through something like that. It’s an experience,” she said. “You actually end up participating in the show and not just spectating."
The actors engage generations through cultural atheistic and spiritual song. “I think an important piece to that is the dancing, because so many of our young people are drawn to the dancing," says Pace. “Even though we’re doing a lot of African dances, there are several moments where professional dancers, they do hip hop, ballet, jazz and all of that. I think that’s one of the drawing parts, it’s through the excellent dancing that’s going forth and represented."
Black Nativity: A Gospel Christmas Musical Experience / Dominion Entertainment Group 2014
Ellis said that he watches from the stage as the young people become completely enamored with their presentation. “It’s something about the arts. There are so many parts of the arts, the music, the dancing, the acting, but every piece of that in some way has a connection to someone in the audience. Even with the story-line itself, it transcends through time. So, it’s not just a generational thing, it’s the story of Jesus Christ, and how he came to be. It transcends time [and], one of the ways the arts is able to express that through different generations is definitely through dancing, but it has a way of connecting to each person in that audience. I think that’s why it’s just that successful. That’s the great thing about the arts,” Ellis finished poignantly.
Each of the entertainers said that they’ve grown with Dominion Entertainment Group and their display of Black Nativity: A Gospel Christmas Musical Experience.
“I think for me, I’ve grown with my vocal stamina, and I’m a little more compassionate and patient with others. Again, it’s an ensemble cast. You have all these different personalities. You’re sharing a room with 30 people and sometimes 15-- It causes you to be a little more compassionate, patient and understanding of others.
“Yeah,” Ellis scoffed jokingly. “Cause, I will say that I have to be real patient with Q, because we share a dressing room and he gets on my last nerve.”
"I can say this, too,” Q Parker laughed right on chord. “I look forward to this time of the year, [and it’s] not only because of being a part of this production. Let me tell you about the behind the scenes stuff. We have the most fun that I’ve ever had being part of any other project or production. The assemblance of this cast, it’s not that we’re just working together. We genuinely have love for each other. We are connected, even throughout the year. When we get together, we have a ball,” Q Parker summarized their presence as a family, which is another reason that Black Nativity: A Gospel Christmas Musical Experience is a theatrical success.
The show will run from November 30 – December 9th, 2018 at the Ferst Center, in Atlanta, GA.
Please click links for additional show times and locations below.
At the Ferst Center for the Arts, 349 Ferst Dr NW, Atlanta, GA 30332. Click here for tickets.
December 15 @ 7pm, Bell Auditorium. Click here for tickets.
December 22, @ 7pm, Macon City Auditorium. Click here for tickets.