Joining De Shields as the Narrator/Pastor are Enrique Cruz DeJesus (Joseph) and Tracy Jack (Mary). The Black Nativity chorus comprises Rejinald Woods, Phyre Hawkins, Laiona Michelle, Tryphena Wade, Nikki Stephenson, Alexander Elisa, Zoie Morris and Melvin Bell, III. The Shangilia Youth Choir of Kenya are also part of the CTH staging. Classical Theatre of Harlem has reset Langston Hughes' work in Times Square in 1973. CTH founder and artistic director Alfred Preisser directs the production with choreography by Tracy Jack.
Black Nativity, according to press notes, is "a Dickensian backdrop of seekers, lost souls, and hustlers, providing a colorful and extreme jump off for the exuberant African American music and dance which heightens the soulful story about the universal search for 'Peace on Earth.'"
The creative team for Black Nativity includes musical director Kelvyn Bell, scenic designer Troy Hourie, lighting designer Aaron Black and costume designer Kimberly Glennon.
André De Shields was Tony-nominated for his performances in Play On! and The Full Monty. On Broadway De Shields originated the title role in The Wiz, and also appeared in the Broadway productions of Prymate, Ain't Misbehavin', Warp, Stardust and André De Shield's Harlem Nocturne, for which he handled all creative duties. De Shields has also choreographed two of Bette Midler's Broadway engagements.
Black Nativity will run through Dec. 30 at the Duke on 42nd Street. Tickets are available by visiting www.smarttix.com or by phoning (212) 868-4444.
For further information on Classical Theatre of Harlem's 2007/2008 season, visit www.classicaltheatreofharlem.org.