Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #49

Contents

BLACK NATIVITY – A BOSTON CLASSIC

THE A.R.T. STAGES A BRILLIANT “NO CHILD”

JAZZ COOKS AT HARVARD

A TREE GROWS IN ROXBURY!

UP-COMING EVENTS


BLACK NATIVITY – A BOSTON CLASSIC

by Kay Bourne

00f5453a4822d87b169ec5b196ae798a.124.27 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #49The Child is born. The kings have left their gifts. The gospel choir glides away with candles flickering, only a gilden star, above the stage remains, until a little chorister dashes out, alone. He is awe struck, as are we, who have celebrated the meaning of Christmas through the glories of Langston Hughes’ gospel song-play. ‘Away in a manger’ he sings and the lights go down on “BLACK NATIVITY.”

Indeed, the annual holiday season offering from the National Center of Afro-American Artists touches the singers and dancers in the show as surely as it inspires us in the audience. The very first ‘baby Jesus,’ who annually is played by a tiny infant kicking happily in the manger, was the son of current lead soloist Vivian Cooley-Collier, who sings ‘No Room’ and ‘Come All Ye Faithful.’

At the time, a single mom with three boys, she was grateful through the ensuing years for an activity that “didn’t give them time to get in trouble; we were involved six days a week. And I believe Black Nativity helped them along the way to make wise choices in life.” Ronald is now a computer analyst; one of her twins is a flight attendant who also teaches yoga and the other is a police officer in Oakland, California.

A number of families, over the years, have found a haven in Black Nativity. Marcus Brooks, son of musician/folklorist Janice Allen Brooks, was in the show many years, first as ‘baby Jesus,’ then in the choirs, and, finally, as a wise man. Now a manager with the franchise Coldstone Creamery overseeing two stores and 30 – 40 employees in the winter (the number jumps to twice that in the summer).

Marcus says “the show started out as a place where my friends were, but as time went on, it taught me discipline. You have to maintain your composure in order to do two shows a day. I learned a lot of skills I’m using now, such as how to meet people, what you say and what you can’t say.” Brooks is also a counselor for the national intervention service ‘Visions’ that helps ease problems in schools and the workplace arising from racism, age-ism and the like.

The Springer-O’Neal family, mother, father and children, are Black Nativity production regulars. Now teenagers, Stephen Korliss and Danique “sometimes grumble when it’s time to start rehearsals,” comments mom, Desiree. “But once it gets underway, they’re excited and ready to go. They help backstage too.” Stephen (senior) has been a percussionist and African drummer for over thirty years. Desiree dances ‘Mary,’ as she has since she was 16. Stephen Korliss also drums and Danique is a singer. Both have been the Baby Jesus. “They are good students and good citizens, and I think some of that is the impact of being in the show. Also in an era where there is so much commercialization of Christmas, ‘Black Nativity’ reminds us of the real meaning of the holiday,” she said.

This 38th annual Black Nativity opened last week and plays weekends through DECEMBER 16 in Converse Hall at Tremont Temple, 88 Tremont Street, downtown Boston next to the Omni Hotel and is easily accessible from both the Park Street and Government Center T stops. Tickets range from $41 – $17.50, and click here for 1/2 price off $41 orchestra tickets, (while supplies last). For more information, visit the website listed below.

Black Nativity website


THE A.R.T. STAGES A BRILLIANT “NO CHILD”

by Kay Bourne

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