Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Black Nativity: A Gospel Song Play

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Enough with the holiday entertainments, right? There's a show that will lift your heart around every corner these days. But Black Nativity's combination of genuine professionalism and heartfelt belief--in God, in African-American culture--takes it light-years beyond commercial exhibits like the dutifully homogenized Radio City Christmas Spectacular. It will not only lift your heart, it will make you happy to be part of the human family, with its drive to laugh, sing, and dance. This Congo Square Theatre Company production, a revue adapted and directed by Mike Malone, emphasizes the individual--halfway through you know how each of the ten vocalists and five dancers inflects the music and movement. Fast paced but never rushed, it starts with Langston Hughes's take on the Nativity and ends with an homage to gospel music that includes impersonations of Reverend James Cleveland, the Clara Ward Singers, and Mahalia Jackson. But impersonation--pretending in general--isn't really the point. Belief is. Through 12/31; see www.chicagoreader.com for complete schedule. 12/8-12/15: Thu 7:30 PM, Fri-Sat 8 PM, Sun 2 and 7:30 PM, Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, 312-443-3800, $20-$45.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Brosilow.

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