Congo Square Theatre Company presents 'The Nativity'

December 24, 2010 10:09:37 AM PST
The Congo Square Theatre Company returns to the Goodman Theatre for a revamped telling of a classic holiday story ''The Nativity,'' a two-part extravaganza that mixes New Testament storytelling with the history of Gospel music in America.

Written by McKinley Johnson and directed by Aaron Todd Douglas, "The Nativity" is in its sixth season as it returns to the Chicago holiday theater stage after a year-long hiatus.

Congo Square's presentation of "The Nativity" aims to tell a deeper story of Christ's birth, one that successfully captures and recreates the world of the Middle East and Africa that existed for the time and telling of the biblical story. This positioning of the story is also a key factor in changing the name "Black Nativity" to "The Nativity" for this holiday season.

"We are excited to bring this telling of a splendid story to the Goodman for our return," said director Aaron Todd Douglas. "'The Nativity' is a story that is meaningful and carries across an array of cultures, and we are confident it will be enjoyed as a rich Chicago holiday tradition."

The original production of Black Nativity began in 2004 as a family-oriented offering that the ensemble company brought to the stage as an answer to the absence of African American holiday tradition in Chicago. The ensemble established its roots with the Goodman with Mike Malone's adaptation of Langston Hughes' story of Christ's birth as an alternative to Chicago's sole holiday presentation, "A Christmas Carol."

Critical acclaim and community approval brought success to the production that lasted through 2006. The adaptation changed in 2007 to reflect Rajendra Ra Moon Maharaj's basing of the story in the Sudan as a call to attention on the Darfur crisis. 2008 signaled the first rendering of McKinley Johnson's version and represents an upswing after a funding lack canceled the 2009 production.

For 2010, Congo Square Theatre Company's holiday tradition of showcasing the closely weaved relationship between Christianity and African American culture rolls into a new decade as a mainstay in Chicago holiday history.

"The Nativity" cast features Congo Ensemble member Alexis J. Rogers, and will be choreographed by the Artistic Director of Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, Kevin Iega Jeff. With music composed by Jaret Landon, the musical personifies the messages of family, unity and love through the traditions of African American heritage.

"The Nativity" runs at the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn Ave., from December 3 through December 31. For tickets, call 312-443-3800, and for group ticket sales call 773-296-1108.


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