By Ruth Ferguson, NDG Editor
TeCo Theatrical Productions is hosting their 11th Annual presentation of Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity on stage now through Dec. 18 at Bishop Arts Theatre Center. Once again, it is a family holiday treat celebrating a message of faith as the center point of the Christmas season. It provides an opportunity to refocus on the reason for the season.
Every year TeCo brings in different directors to add their spin on the African-American holiday classic. This year Lisa B, trained at Texas Tech who has worked across the country as an actress, acting coach, and producer is the director.
Act I offer a reverent look at the holy occasion of the birth of Jesus Christ. The songs featured include familiar holiday hymns as well as others less known.
The highlight of the Act I included the appearance of Angela Blair with her amazing vocal talent and the singing and humor of Kenja Brown. For the Chicago native, this is Brown’s second appearance on the Bishop Arts stage. A Texan now, Brown has also appeared at Jubilee Theatre in Fort Worth. Aubrey Stephenson, whose duet with Blair at the end of Act I was a true standout of the show, is also a veteran of several productions at the Jubilee.
The appearance of Blair was an unexpected delight, and she truly elevates the spirit of the audience with her incredible vocal talent. A Dallas treasure who has gained national acclaim as an actress, singer and film producer, when Blair sings the audience is transported from a theatrical experience to a spiritual one.
Act II still keeps the focus on the good news of the birth of Jesus, but instead of the Biblical times, the story setting moves to a small church. Just as in Act I, Brown and Blair continue to standout.
There are very few speaking parts, the story moves forward primarily through song and with the appearance of Praise Dancers, through dance as well. The spoken parts come in two forms: Biblical passages and exhortations from the minister in Act Two.
Michael Hubbard is serving again as the Musical Director and the talent he is presenting ranges from students with the W. E. Greiner Arts Magnet Middle School theater department to veterans of the DFW theater scene and the renown Blair.
Once again another hallmark of TeCo is the diversity of the cast, lending itself to a feeling of an inclusive story of good news for all. The diversity extends itself to the dancers as well. In mainstream productions, dancers are typically of a certain size. However, these dancers celebrate the ability of all women to perform gracefully.
Black Nativity is on stage at the Bishop Arts Theatre Center tickets available in advance for $18 and $22 at the door. The tickets are available by phone at 214-948-0716 or by visiting www.bishopartstheatre.org. Discounts are available for groups of 15 or more. Free parking is available along Tyler and at the corner of 10th & Tyler behind Grace Temple Baptist Church.