Arts & Entertainment

Crossroads Theatre Company to Bring Langston Hughes’ 'Black Nativity' to Its Stage, Dec. 9-18, Featuring Grammy Nominee Tony Terry

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: Dancers Jamon Victor and Davina Porter with singer Mike Hammond rehearse a scene from “Black Nativity,” on stage at Crossroads Theatre Company, New Brunswick, Dec. 9-18. Credits: Jarrid Denman
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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ –  Langston Hughes’ soaring music- and poetry-infused retelling of the birth of Jesus comes to the Crossroads Theatre Company for the holiday season in a new production of  the late writer’s classic work, Black Nativity.

The show runs Dec. 9 through 18 with performances Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 10, 11, 17 and 18 at 3 p.m.; Dec. 10 and 17 at 8 p.m.; Dec. 14 at 10 a.m.; Dec. 15 and 16 at 7 p.m. Ticket prices are $25, $45 and $55 depending on the performance and may be purchased online at crossroadstheatrecompany.org or by phone at 732-545-8100. Opening night is Saturday, Dec. 10. Crossroads Theatre Company is located at 7 Livingston Ave.

Produced in association with Denman-Turner Entertainment Group and Obediah Productions, Black Nativity combines traditional Christmas carols, gospel-style original music, ritual, African dance and storytelling to tell the story of the Nativity with an all-black cast of artists, including singers and dancers. First performed off-Broadway in December 1961, Black Nativity was one of the first plays written by an African American to be staged there.

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This all new production features R&B recording artist and 2017 Grammy nominee Tony Terry, who is nominated in the Best Historical Album category, and gospel recording artist and actor Kenton Rogers. The show is directed by Lee Truesdale and choreographed by Obediah Wright.. LaTrina Rice is assistant director. Both Terry and Truesdale performed in Crossroads’ first production of Black Nativity in 1985.

Black Nativity fits neatly into our seasonal theme of ‘Celebrating a woman’s Gift.’ One can argue that birthing Jesus is the ultimate gift,” said Crossroads’ Producing Artistic Director Marshall Jones III. “We are thrilled with the talented cast that Lee and Obediah have assembled. It’ll be church time at Crossroads so get your tickets now!”

            Terry is best known as a sensual-soulful balladeer, whose hits include “(When I’m) With You” and “Lovey, Dovey.” A graduate of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C., he started out backing groups like Sweet Sensation and The Boogie Boys before beginning his solo career. His biggest hit, “With You,” reached the top 20 of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Terry continues to record in the R&B and gospel genres. His theater work includes the national tour of “The Wiz,” and “If This Hat Could Talk: The Dorothy Height Story."

The talented cast of actors, singers and dancers also includes Lyric Anderson, Ibn Days, Gary E, Pamela Ellis, Mike Hammond, LaMichael Hendrix, Deven Louis, Jameel McKanstry, Sharae Moultrie, Davina Porter, Tamira Sanders, Malik Squire, Jamon Victor, Angie Ward, Meka Ward and Neyoka Wells.

The production includes additional staging by Wright and additional vocal and musical arrangements by Mike Hammond and Jameel McCanstry.

Denman Turner Entertainment Group was founded by Texas natives and performing artists Dominique Denman and Kellie Turner to bring live entertainment to diverse audiences around the country and world, and to provide a stage for established and emerging artists. The company produces new and existing works and musical productions, including “Jimmy Earl’s Defense,” “Son of a Preacher Man” and “Sassy” about Sarah Vaughan.  The New York-based organization is home to The Harlem Messengers, a gospel group that tours internationally.

Founded in 1978 by Ricardo Khan and L. Kenneth Richardson, Crossroads Theatre Company embraces the vision that African American theater is intended for a broad-based, diverse audience.  As a major force in the development of new ideas and the introduction of formerly marginalized writers, Crossroads produces works that enrich and diversify the representation of African American culture on the American stage. Crossroads was the winner of the 1999 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater in the United States. Marshall Jones III is producing artistic director.

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