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H Street Rings In Holidays With Theater Alliance’s Production of Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity

Celebrate Christmas Time In D.C. With Langston Hughes' Musical, Black Nativity

 
PRLog - Nov. 28, 2011 - Rich Gospel Music.  Powerful Dance.  Theater Alliance launches Season NINE with one of the oldest stories ever re-told by one of America’s greatest poets.  Directed by Theater Alliance alum Stephawn Stephens, Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity is the first production of Theater Alliance’s 9th season.  Written towards the end of his career, legendary poet and social activist Langston Hughes has woven a vibrant retelling of the Christmas story from an Afro-American perspective with gospel music, griot-style storytelling, and dance.  Black Nativity runs at Theater Alliance at the H street Playhouse December 3-31; Wednesdays-Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 4pm.

Theater Alliance invites you on a journey to an event that took place over 2000 years ago with the birth of a child who would change the world.  With this powerhouse musical, you will experience the Nativity story in an entirely new, vibrant way.

From the publication of Langston Hughes first poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” in 1921 until his death in 1967, Hughes celebrated the beauty and uniqueness of the African-American culture and sought to give a voice to that culture’s experience.  He actively encouraged African-Americans to take pride in their identity and would become a central figure in the Harlem Renaissance.  Black Nativity was one of the first shows written by an African-American to appear on Broadway, where it premiered on December 11, 1961.

Artistic Director Colin Hovde says, “Theater Alliance is thrilled to bring Black Nativity back to the H Street Playhouse for a third holiday season.  The celebration of life and redemption that is at the heart of the production is a tremendously unifying experience for audiences of all beliefs and backgrounds.”

Stephawn Stephens is joined by Musical Director Michael Terry and Choreographer Tony Thomas.  Black Nativity will feature scenic design by Klyph Stanford, lighting design by Dan Covey, and costume design by Levonne Lindsay.

The cast for Black Nativity includes Chris DeLoatch, Ayanna Hardy, LaSharon Buttercup Johnson, Jacqueline O’Day Ellison, Sherice Payne, Krislynn Perry, Robert E. Person, Elton L. Pittman, Rafealito Ross, Keira Turner, and Melissa Victor.
Black Nativity
Written by Langston Hughes
Directed by Stephawn Stephens

CAST
Mary: Keira Turner
Joseph: Tony Thomas
Angel: Melissa Victor
Ensemble: Chris DeLoatch, Ayanna Hardy, LaSharon Buttercup Johnson, Jacqueline O’Day Ellison, Sherice Payne, Krislynn Perry, Robert E. Person, Elton L. Pittman, Rafealito Ross, Keira Turner, and Melissa Victor

CREATIVE TEAM
Director: Stephawn Stephens
Set Designer: Klyph Stanford
Lighting Designer: Dan Covey
Costume Designer: Levonne Lindsay
Properties Design: Adele Robey

SPONSORS
Black Nativity is generously sponsored by Von Schlegal Realty Team, The Kiplinger Foundation, DC Access, Riverby Books, Michael Anthony Salon, Monarch Title, Saving Grace Services, Signal Financial, and Larry Bowers, DDS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James Langston Hughes was born in 1902 in Joplin, Missouri.  He began writing poetry in the eighth grade and was honored as Class Poet.  For a short time, he pursued engineering at Columbia University but soon dropped out to write poetry full-time.  His first poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” was published in 1921 and would become one of his most famous works.  His essays, poems, and short stories were soon appearing in the NAACP publications Crisis Magazine and Opportunity Magazine, as well as in Nation.  In the following years, Hughes traveled extensively in Africa, America, and Europe.  During this period of exploration, he began developing the new genre of “jazz poetry,” emerging as a leader in the Harlem Renaissance.  Hughes completed his formal schooling with a B.A. at Lincoln University in 1929.  In the following years, he also received an honorary Lit.D from Lincoln, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1935, and a Rosenwald Fellowship in 1940.  An enormously prolific writer, Hughes produced sixteen books of poems, two novels, three collections of short stories, twenty plays, children’s poetry, three autobiographies, and several magazine articles.  A few of these titles include “The Weary Blues” (1926), “Not Without Laughter” (1930), “The Negro Mother and Other Dramatic Recitations” (1931), “The Dream Keeper” (1932), “The Big Sea” (1940), “Shakespeare In Harlem” (1942), and “I Wonder as I Wander” (1956), to name just a few.  Langston Hughes died of cancer on May 22, 1967.  His Harlem residence has been given landmark status, and his black of East 127th Street was renamed “Langston Hughes Place.”

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
Director Stephawn Stephens returns to the helm of Black Nativity after having directed Theater Alliance’s 2009 and 2010 productions of the holiday show.  Stephens has previously appeared at Theater Alliance in A Night at the Dew Drop Inn, Gospel at Colonus, and Black Nativity.  Other stage credits include Coming Home (Atlas Theater Tribute Productions), Once On This Island (Round House), Crowns (Arena Stage and Hartford Stage), Barrio Grrl, Color Me Dark, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Carmen Jones, Soul Possessed (The Kennedy Center), Grand Hotel (Signature Theater), The Swing Mikado, Once On This Island, Runaways (Karamu House Theater), Die Meistersinger, The Russian Project, and Die Fledermause (The Cleveland Opera).

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE
Black Nativity runs December 3-31, 2011 at the H Street Playhouse, Wednesdays – Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 4pm.  There will be no 8pm performance on December 24 and no 8pm performance on December 31.  There will be Pay What You Can Performances on December 3 at 8pm and December 4 at 3pm and 8pm.
Recommended for audiences 8 and up

SPECIAL EVENTS
Monday, December 5: Black Nativity Opening Night.  Kick off the holiday season with the opening night performance and celebration of Black Nativity at Theater Alliance.
Friday, December 16:  Black Nativity Board Night Soiree.  This black-tie-optional fundraiser includes the evening’s performance of Black Nativity, food and drink, and mingling with the cast and creative team.  Tickets are $50.
Monday, December 19: Black Nativity director Stephawn Stephens takes to the stage for a cabaret performance of gospel, standards, and Christmas songs.
Monday, December 26:  Robert E. Person has graced the H St. Playhouse stage in all three productions of Black Nativity and is currently a Theater Alliance board member.  Join us for his holiday cabaret performance.

TICKET INFORMATION
General Admission tickets to Black Nativity are $35.  All tickets to Black Nativity are available for purchase at www.theateralliance.com or by calling 202-241-2539.  Group rates are available.

ABOUT THEATER ALLIANCE
Now in its 9th Season and under the new leadership of Artistic Director Colin Hovde and Managing Director Lee Daugherty, Theater Alliance will continue its heritage of producing provocative, challenging, and rewarding theatre while also growing the company in exciting, unprecedented directions.

Season Nine productions include Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity (December 3-31), the Regional Premiere of Fin Kennedy’s How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found (March 10-April 1), and the World Premiere of Nicholas Wardingo’s Hum (May 12-June 3).

www.theateralliance.com
Contact: Lee Daugherty
Managing Director
lee@theateralliance.com

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