This year, women are very much in charge of the
That archangel is played this year by Alexis J. Rogers, who lit up Hyde Park this summer with her performance as Bess in Court Theatre's production of
The main difference from years' past is that the gospel-music sequence has been dropped in favor of a shorter bill of Christmas music in a gospel style, following the narrative of the birth of Jesus.
The piece is now a 100-minute, one-act, and Johnson updates some of the biblical references to include timely matters such as a low FICO score, meaning that Mary and Joseph must spend the night in the stable.
But that added humor is very much within the gently anachronistic tradition of the Hughes original, and most of the other familiar components remain, including the dance roles of Mary and Joseph, performed, as gently and beautifully as ever, by Kathleen Purcell Turner and Kevin Dirckson.
Duncan's staging (Congo Square traditionally performs this show at the
But there is no sag whatsoever in the music this year, which is accompanied by a live band. In the role of the Mother of Mary, Bethany Thomas — a young actress whom I've watched for years but whose voice seems to have exploded like the Fourth of July just in the last few months — offers up an extraordinarily thrilling and emotional version of "O Holy Night" that is enough to put one in awe of the season, all on its own.
"Fall on your knees," indeed. Or maybe take to your feet.
When: Through Dec. 31
Where: Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St.
Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes