The Nativity | Kennedy-King College Theatre | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
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This isn't your grandma's church pageant. Nor is it quite like Langston Hughes's Black Nativity, the 1961 play on which it's based. Yet McKinley Johnson's exhilarating 2009 one-act expresses every bit of Hughes's reverence for gospel music and praise dance. Major props to composer/arranger/music director Jaret Landon Williams, who puts the cast's 13 singers through clarion solos and intricately twisting harmonies. Merging their voices, they meet all his ringing challenges. Director Ilesa Duncan accentuates the humor and vernacular ease of Johnson's script; she's also particularly good at evoking the strong sense of community among the women characters. Demanding choreography by Kevin Iega Jeff and Nicole Springer embodies the innocence and suffering of Mary and Joseph (who never speak) and gives the ensemble scenes in this Congo Square Theatre staging a crucial sense of celebration. —Laura Molzahn.



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