For those unfamiliar with the story, it’s a gospel tradition, centered on The Walker Family and their journey of growth and discovery that the real meaning of Christmas is better expressed through the spirit of love, rather than material offerings. As they luck upon this understanding, they open their home to a “wanderer,” as well as a couple and their baby- a pair symbolic of Mary, Joseph and Christ, that through dance, gracefully illustrate the story of the Black Nativity.
The play was co-conceived by T. Mychael Rambo and Penumbra Theatre founder and associate director Lou Bellamy. The illustrious Dominic Taylor, whose ingenious skills provide this 23- year mainstay with the necessary tools to generate a feel of something new and magical, directs. Its ribbon of gospel prose, in lieu of vocal conversation, are thanks to musical director Sanford Moore, who takes us on a sweet and electrifying journey through songs such as, “No Room at the Inn,” “The Soulful Noel,” and “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”
The piece stars Greta Oglesby as Grandma Walker, Geoff Jones as Son, Ginger Commodore as Daughter; and Jackson Hurst and Samia Butler as the grandkids. Dennis W. Spears reprises his role as the Wanderer, and Alanna Morris and Marciano Silva play Mary and Joseph. Like the importance of a rook to a chess set, all the individuals associated with this play are an intricate part to the telling of this powerful and very necessary story.
I was once told that if you can name all of the specifics as to why you might love something or someone, then you’ve failed to find the beauty of loving with your eyes closed. Apart from laying out its playbill, and going over its many corridors that dazzle, I still don’t have one, two- or even three specific reasons why I love Penumbra Theatre’s production of Black Nativity: Now’s The Time, I just do. But if my smile could be any indication of what my spirit is feeling, than indubitable beauty would be the statement that’d ring out.
Step into the tradition this year, and prepare to let your soul be inspired.
Black Nativity: Now’s the Time runs now until December 26. For ticket information visit www.penumbratheatre.org or call the box office at (651) 224-3180.