BWW Review: BLACK NATIVITY at Black Theatre Troupe Brings Us The True Meaning of Christmas
Remarkable, astonishing, captivating, all words that couldn't begin to describe what I witnessed at The Black Theatre Troupe. It is one thing for a show to move you to tears by its message, but this production has the ability to do much more. The Black Theatre Troupes production of Black Nativity moves your spirit, sending its audiences into irrefutable praise.
Black Nativity follows the story of Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus. The entire cast of Black Nativity is remarkable in the fact that each one leads with authority, yet still falls into the ensemble with cohesivity. We the audience are first mesmerized by Brittney Johnson as she gracefully enters as the angel sent by God and beheld by Mary, played by Shaniece Brazwell, and Joseph, played by Alexander Patrick. The trio captivates the audience through dance with fluidity, poise, and nearly palpable raw emotion. Shaniece and Alexander truly bring to life Mary and Joseph's story of bringing the son of God into the world, and the trials therein. George Johnson, E. Lamont Leonard, and Trevell McElwee-Chappell each bring their powerful presence and profound vocalability to the men's ensemble. Each ensemble woman astonishes the audience with unyielding strength and voices that soar, with Whitnie Young and Tyra Yvette as standout powerhouses. As well, the children in the ensemble show us more than just cuteness, as they perform on par with their more seasoned counterparts. Lastly, Jeremy Jones is a charismatic Narrator that manages to bring church to the Helen K. Mason Auditorium, as the audience becomes more inclined to worship with the production's progression. The Musicians, consisting of Conductor Brenda Hankins, Keyboardist Devin Stevens, Bassist Joseph Lindsey, and Melvin Johnson on drums, are the glue holding this collage of magnificence.
If the first act was all they decided to do for this show, I would have left satisfied. However, the knowledge of a second act after being taken to church by this cast left me famished for more during intermission. I am convinced also that the comedic bits are strategically placed throughout this production in order to ease the ever-growing lump in the audience's throats. Along with heart-wrenching moments like A Baby Changes Everything, there still are fun-loving spots such as Rise up Shepard.
The power of this cast and this show is undeniably astounding. Director Walter Belecher did a spectacular job using these dancers and singers to deliver this powerful message of peace on earth and goodwill to men. Being on the receiving end of this moving production, I can say there is no better way to celebrate the holiday season than to bear witness to the coming of the lord in the seats you will find yourself dancing along and cheering from. If you have not yet made plans for this holiday season, make sure to add Black Nativity at The Black Theatre Troupe to your list of must see's before they close on December 22nd.