BLACK NATIVITY NOW, a holiday gospel pageant featuring an original score and musical direction by Kelvyn Bell, choreography by Tracy Jack and direction by Alfred Preisser, will have a limited 5 week run, Off-Broadway at the Theatre at St. Clement’s, 423 West 46th Street in New York City. Performances begin Friday, December 3 and continue through Sunday, January 2, 2011. Opening night is Thursday, December 9 at 7pm.
BLACK NATIVITY NOW is produced by Jeffrey Glaser, Christopher McElroen, Alfred Preisser, Dana Watkins, Kingsize-USA & 9One Productions.
Co-writers Alfred Preisser and Tracy Jack have set BLACK NATIVITY NOW, their holiday gospel pageant, in a present day urban setting that could be the city where you live, to tell the story of the birth of Christ from a fresh and wholly original perspective. The contemporary setting provides a heartfelt reference point for an evening of exuberant music and dance that celebrates humanity’s need for hope and grace.
BLACK NATIVITY NOW unfolds within an intimate and passionate church presided over by a pastor, played by Broadway veteran and two-time Emmy Award winner Nikkieli DeMone (“Bad Street”, “In The Eyes Of God”, Miss Saigon, Rent, Ragtime, Jesus Christ Superstar, Sideshow), who is also an ordained Bishop, heavily influenced by Broadway show-biz. Supported by a choir of singers and dancers who perform musical sets infused with gospel, pop, funk, and soul, BLACK NATIVITY NOW is the universal story of mankind’s search for salvation and “peace on earth.” Appropriate for all ages, and perfect for everyone who loves music, dance and the holiday season.
Rollo Romig of The New Yorker writes, “At the beginning of this dazzling show, a musician (Kelvyn Bell, who composed the original score) steps onstage with an electric guitar and describes the church of his youth, built on the muddy ground of Buckwater, Missouri. “I just wanted to share some of the love, and some of the mud,” he explains, launching into the gospel standard “Up Above My Head.” There’s a lot more love and mud to come: for the next eighty minutes, the ensemble just keeps topping itself in a blend of modern-dress nativity story, rousing revival meeting, and, most of all, first-rate soul-gospel revue. Alfred Preisser, director and co-writer (with Tracy Jack), lends wit and vitality to the tropes of each of these forms; it’s a rare pageant that delivers this much warmth, energy, and depth of feeling.”
The BLACK NATIVITY NOW cast also features Jeff Bolding (Chorus Leader, Pastor), Jarvis Manning Jr. (Joseph), Breanna Bartley (Mary) and Naja Jack (Angel). Melanie Charles, Tracy Jack, Vincent Leggett,Brittney Mack, Amma Osei, Stephen Scott Wormley round out the chorus.
BLACK NATIVITY NOW has set design by Evan Collier, costume design by Mia Bienovich, lighting design by Kate Ashton, sound design by Janie Bullard, musical direction and guitar by Kelvyn Bell, David “Red” Harrington on bass, Chris Eddelton on drums, stage management by Katie Hong and press by Lia Chang.
The Harlem Japanese Gospel Choir, winner of the 2010 Best Choir Award at the McDonald's Gospel Fest, will make special guest appearances in BLACK NATIVITY NOW on Saturday December 4th, 11th and 18th at 7pm. The Harlem Japanese Gospel Choir was established by producer Tommy Tomita in 1997 and has performed throughout New York City under the direction of Minister Melody Moore.
Alfred Preisser is an award winning director, writer and producer of theatre. He has led over forty professional productions in New York and regionally. From 1999 – 2009, Mr. Preisser was the Founding Artistic Director of the Classical Theatre of Harlem, where he created a wide and distinguished body of work noted for its physicality, originality, and use of music and dance. Award-winning highlights include his 2009 production of ARCHIBISHOP SUPREME TARTUFFE starring André De Shields (four Audelcos); Melvin Van Peebles’ Ain’t Supposed To Die a Natural Death (seven Audelcos); and his 2006 production of King Lear with André De Shields which opened the 75th Anniversary season at The Folger Shakespeare Theatre in Washington D.C. He has created critically acclaimed original adaptations of Medea, The Trojan Women and Electra. Other productions in New York include Macbeth, which toured Germany in 2004, Hamlet, Day of Absence, Dream on Monkey Mountain and Romeo and Juliet. His work has been recognized with the American Theatre Wing Award (Outstanding Artistic Achievement), Drama Desk Award (Artistic Achievement), Edwin Booth Award (Outstanding Contribution to NYC Theater), Lucille Lortel Award (Outstanding Body of Work), two Obie Awards (Sustained Achievement and Excellence in Theatre) and numerous Audelco Awards.
Tracy Jack is a New York based writer, actor and choreographer. Recent acting and choreography credits include include Melvin Van Peebles’ Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (Paris, France), André De Shields’ Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory, J Kyle Manzay's claymation television series It's All Elementary,Diane Paulus and Randy Weiner’s Best of Both Worlds (Cambridge MA) and Alfred Preisser’sARCHBISHOP SUPREME TARTUFFE , just to name a few. Ms. Jack is the founding director of The Triple Threat Performing Arts Academy, an arts intensive program designed for teens and young adults who have a strong desire to work in the industry. She is also currently developing BALAFROHOP, an epic dance performance that tells the story of a young woman caught in the midst of a troubling love triangle. BALAFROHOP is a seamless mixture of contemporary, African and hip hop dance and was successfully debuted at the City Parks Foundation's SummerStage 2010.
Kelvyn Bell is a guitarist, composer and musical director. He has been a contributing innovator to The Association for the Advancement of Creative Music (AACM), Black Artist Group (BAG), m-Base, The Harlem School of the Arts, The St. Louis Jazz Hall of Fame and The Black Rock Coalition (BRC), of which he is a founding member. Mr. Bell has toured internationally and recorded with Arthur Blythe, Lester Bowie, Steve Coleman & Five Elements, James Carter, Maceo Parker and the JB’s, Living Colour, and Joseph Bowie & Defunkt, of which he is a founding member. Mr. Bell has been the resident composer for The Classical Theatre of Harlem since 2002. His theater credits include Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Black Nativity, Trojan Women, Macbeth, King Lear, Hamlet, and ARCHBISHOP SUPREME TARTUFFE, for which Mr. Bell won the 2009 Audelco Award for Best Musical Direction.
Nikkieli DeMone, a two-time Emmy Award winning actor, has appeared on stage in Miss Saigon, Rent, Ragtime, Jesus Christ Superstar, Ain’t Misbehavin, Once On This Island, Crowns, The Best Of Both Worlds, Memphis Soul and Sideshow, among many others. On the screen, Demone has appeared in The Women Of Brewster Place (with Oprah Winfrey), Amen (with Sherman Hemsley and Clifton Davis), Bad Street (Emmy Award: Best Supporting Actor in a Drama), and In The Eyes Of God (Emmy Award: Best Actor in a Documentary Short. Directed by Spike Lee).
In addition to his award-winning career as an actor, Nikkieli DeMone is also an ordained Bishop who attended Union Theological Seminary in NYC, Chicago Theological Seminary and Howard University School of Divinity in Washington D.C. He has been blessed to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ all over the world, and has ministered for the likes of Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., Bishop Paul Morton, Bishop Charles Blake, Rev. Dr. Floyd Flake, Rev. Dr. Ray Allen Berryhill, Pastor Donnie McClurkin and Bishop Charles Brown. He is currently working on his first CD entitled Sacred Songs.
Jeff Bolding is the Director of “The Inspirational Voices of Abyssinian” of The Abyssinian Baptist Church, Rev. Dr Calvin Otis Butts, III, Pastor, and currently serves as Assistant Choir Director for Bob Telson’s and Lee Breuer’s international sensation The Gospel at Colonus, performed at the Apollo Theatre, Harlem, NYC (20th anniversary production, 2004), The Vienna Arts Festival (2006), The Greek Arts Festival, Athens, Greece (June, 2008), and The Edinburgh Arts Festival, Edinburgh Scotland (August, 2010). Bolding presented for the New York World Science Festival, a collaboration concert, Music and the Brain with internationally renown author, neurologist, and humanitarian Dr. Oliver Sacks (May, 2008), World Science Festival Opening Gala, Lincoln Center, NYC (2009), and has collaborated with Nation to Nation Networking, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting youth and educational programs in the US, Africa, the Caribbean, and South America. He traveled to Ethiopia with 165 pilgrims from Abyssinian Baptist Church (commemorating The Ethiopian Orthodox Church’s Millennium celebration and Abyssinian’s 200th anniversary, 2007) where he presented a brief musical program on the history of Gospel music before the Ethiopian government. Bolding received a 2004 AUDELCO Award for his performance in Great Men of Gospel.
BOX OFFICE & PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE: www.BlackNativityOffBroadway.com
TICKETS: $47.50 - $67.50 | Student and group rates available For more information call 1-866-811-4111. Theatre at St. Clement’s is located at 423 West 46th Street between 9th & 10th Avenues in New York. Closest subway: A, C, E to 42nd Street. Exit 44th Street. Walk north on 8th Avenue to West 46th Street, then west to the theatre.
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Theater: Theatre at St. Clements
Address: 423 West 46th Street
New York, NY
Cost:Tickets are $47.50 - $67.50, student and group rates are available.
Buy Tickets Online or Call: Ovation Tickets at 866-811-4111