Karamu House presents the soul stirring Langston Hughes’ ‘Black Nativity’




The holiday miracle that is Langston Hughes’ “Black Nativity” is back on stage at Karamu and it is better than ever. The show is a seamless fusion of song, dance, poetry and soul that is guaranteed to lift your spirits.

Act I is the telling of the nativity story and the birth of Jesus Christ that is performed in the traditional old time gospel style. Each musical number glides into the next with poetic interludes and interpretive dance to dazzle the eyes and ears. One truly feels and wonders at the pain and quiet desperation as the young parents of Christ are turned away from one inn after another. As Mary’s birth time grows near they find a stable in which to rest and this is where the Christ child is born. Word reaches some shepherds who come to visit and kneel at the feet of the savior. They are later joined by the three wise men who follow the guiding star to this place of humble birth.

Act II is a prayer meeting much like those in the olden days as testimony is given, sins are repented for and sanctity received as people are made whole once more. It is a raucous celebration of the healing power of faith as lives that are changed now share with others how it came about and the overpowering desire to relate what has happened in their life.

The cast consists of Darrelle Hill (Narrator) with the vocal ensemble made up of Marta Brock, Brel Erskine, Syrmylin R. Cartwright, Susan Harvey, Bonita Jenkins, Christina Johnson, Jacob McElroy, Ms. Renata L. Napier, CorLesia Smith and Lillian “Oni” Toon. The fantastic dancers are: Kailyn Mack (Mary), Kevin Mar II (Joseph) and Dijon Michelle (The Angel).

The theater filling orchestra has Dr. David M. Thomas (Conductor/Keyboard I), Ed Ridley Jr. (Keyboard II), Bill Ransom (Percussion), Kevin Byous (Electric Guitar), Wayne A Deadwiley Sr. (Bass Guitar), Deion Williams (Drums), Johnny Cochran (Saxophone), Donald Malloy (Trumpet), VanDarrel Woods (Trumpet) and Caleb Smith (Trombone).

The show is Produced and Directed by Tony F. Sias. Scenic and Multimedia/Video Designer is T. Paul Lowry with colorful Costume Design by Inda Blatch Geib. Colleen Albrecht is in charge of the exceptional Lighting Design. The Sound Design is by Richard Ingraham and Kevin Marr II is the show’s Choreographer.

One really cannot sing enough praise about this latest production. The blending of choir voices is impeccable and with the added ten piece orchestra you have a wave of sound crashing on you in the most refreshing way.

Somebody say Amen! That is exactly what you will say and how you will feel once you have witnessed the Karamu production of “Black Nativity”. This is a hand clapping joyous shout of celebration that must not be missed. It is a sure cure for the winter blahs. Come be saved!

Karamu House’s production of “Black Nativity” will be on stage through December 23, 2021. The theater is located at 2355 East 89th Street, Cleveland, Ohio. For information and tickets go to https://www.karamuhouse.org/ or call (216) 795-7077.

Karamu follows all of the current Covid protocols including proof of vaccination or negative testing, temperature check and the wearing of protective masks during the entire stay in the building.

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Who is Mark Horning?

Over the course of my life I have worked a variety of jobs including newspapers, retail camera sales and photography. Eight years ago I embarked on yet another career as writer. This included articles concerning sports and cultural events in Cleveland, Ohio as well reviews of the many theatrical productions around town. These days are spent photographing professional dance groups, theater companies and various galas and festivals as well as attending various stage performances and posting reviews about them.