Bishop Arts’ Black Nativity features memorable performances

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Brittany Jackson and the ensemble cast of Black Nativity perform “River of the Lord” during the second act of the Christmas standard on Dec. 2 at Bishop Arts Theatre Center in Oak Cliff. (Photo: David Wilfong / NDG)

By David Wilfong, NDG Special Contributor

 

Black Nativity by Langston Hughes has become a holiday standard at the Bishop Arts Theatre Center (215 South Tyler Street), and its current cast has the show-up and running until Dec. 17.

 

Black Nativity is more than what the name implies, a re-telling of the Christmas story portrayed by African-American actors. It is a transitional adaptation which carries the Bible story into a current environment, much in the same spirit as such productions as Godspell or Jesus Christ Superstar. It debuted off-Broadway in 1961 and has become a recurring Christmas offering at a growing number of notable venues across the country. In Dallas, the production has found a home at Bishop Arts Theatre in Oak Cliff.

 

First-time viewers will find familiarity with much of the music, while the arrangement might be novel. Some of the music was produced specifically for the play, and in the hands of the right vocalists, will be cemented into the mind’s yuletide library.

 

Tiana Alexander, a graduate of Dallas’ Arts Magnet, is a vocal feature in this season’s run of Hughes’ musical. Tulsa singer/songwriter Brittany Jackson also delivers some memorable solo performances as she also portrays Mary in the stage adaptation.

 

The performance of “Holy” by Rhonda Francis closing out the first half of the show was a powerful standout performance on the second night of the show, leaving the audience ready for more after the intermission.

 

This season’s run at Bishop Arts began on Dec. 1 and concluding on Dec. 17. Shows are performed on weekend nights. On Friday and Sunday nights, curtain time is at 7:30 p.m. On Saturdays, there is a matinee at 3 p.m. and an evening performance at 8 p.m.

 

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