The West Coast is alive with the sound of holiday gospel, but not for much longer. The traditional and popular Christmastime presentations of Langston Hughes' Black Nativity will end in both Seattle and San Francisco Dec. 23.
Black Nativity is a mix of Hughes' poetry, gospel songs and the traditional nativity story. Hughes wrote Nativity in 1961 to bring the African-American experience to Christmas celebrations.
In San Francisco, Stanley E. Williams directs the musical event at the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, featuring award-wining gospel artist Arvis Strickling Jones. Williams is co-founder and artistic director of the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre. A three-time Grammy nominee, Jones has recorded five albums and appeared on stage in The Amen Corner, Gethsemane Park, Your Arms Too Short to Box With God and Tambourines to Glory.
In Seattle, Black Nativity features Reverend Dr. Samuel McKinney, Pastor Partinell Wright, the Total Experience Choir and the Black Nativity choir. The Intiman Theatre houses the popular sell-out event, which this year spawned a gospel CD, "The Total Experience Choir Performing Songs Inspired by Intiman Theatre's Stage Production of Black Nativity." The disc, a release from the Intiman and Starbucks Coffee, includes "Joy to the World," "Go Tell It on the Mountain," "Oh, Come All Ye Faithful, " "Said I Wasn't Gonna Tell Nobody," "Get Away Jordan," "This Little Light of Mine" and "Wonderful," popularized by Same Cooke and the Soul Stirrers.
Tickets in San Francisco are $22-$30. The Lorraine Hansberry Theatre is located at 620 Sutter Street at Mason. For reservations, call (415) 474-8800. Lorraine Hansberry Theatre is on the web at http://www.lorrainehansberrytheatre.com. For tickets in Seattle, call the Intiman box office at (206) 269-1900. The Intiman is located at 201 Mercer Street at the Seattle Center and on the web at http://www.intiman.org.
— By Christine Ehren