"The Nativity" ★★★

Once known as "Black Nativity," now simply "The Nativity," the holiday production of the <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PLGEO00000123" title="Congo" href="/topic/international/congo-PLGEO00000123.topic">Congo</a> Square Theatre Company is hardly the same old Christmas turkey. The title change doesn't signal any retreat from proud presentation of the Gospel in the African-American tradition. It's just that "Black Nativity" refers to a specific work by the great <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PEHST000970" title="Langston Hughes" href="/topic/arts-culture/literature/langston-hughes-PEHST000970.topic">Langston Hughes</a>; some time ago Congo Square commissioned Chicago writer McKinley Johnson to write a new, one-act work, eliminating the formal structure of its gospel concert and integrating the music into the Biblical narrative. The lovely Kathleen Purcell Turner and chiseled Pierre Clark dance their way through Mary and Joseph's remarkable night, in movement powerfully choreographed by Kevin Iega Jeff. Anchored by the narration of John Steven Crowley's Gabriel, Aaron Todd Douglas' production is zestful, inspiring and well sung.<br>
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<i>Through Dec. 31 in the Goodman's Owen Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St.; $40 at 312-443-3800 and goodmantheatre.org</i>

Once known as "Black Nativity," now simply "The Nativity," the holiday production of the Congo Square Theatre Company is hardly the same old Christmas turkey. The title change doesn't signal any retreat from proud presentation of the Gospel in the African-American tradition. It's just that "Black Nativity" refers to a specific work by the great Langston Hughes; some time ago Congo Square commissioned Chicago writer McKinley Johnson to write a new, one-act work, eliminating the formal structure of its gospel concert and integrating the music into the Biblical narrative. The lovely Kathleen Purcell Turner and chiseled Pierre Clark dance their way through Mary and Joseph's remarkable night, in movement powerfully choreographed by Kevin Iega Jeff. Anchored by the narration of John Steven Crowley's Gabriel, Aaron Todd Douglas' production is zestful, inspiring and well sung.

Through Dec. 31 in the Goodman's Owen Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St.; $40 at 312-443-3800 and goodmantheatre.org

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