REVIEWSREVIEWS BYTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

The Nativity

By McKinley Johnsonthe nativity at congo square theatre

Directed by Aaron Todd Douglas

Music director/Composer/Arranger

Choreographer Kevin lega Jeff

Produced by Congo Square Theatre Company

At the Goodman’s  Owen Theatre

Soaring vocals give and original songs lift The Nativity into the heavens!

Based on Langston Hughes’ African American classic Black Nativity, McKinley Johnson’s takes on the birth of the Christ child is most African-Middle East oriented with five new gospel/blues songs by Jaret Landon. This well song show also features Kevin lega Jeff’s sensual  traditional choreography and movement.  The show is rooted in its unique perspective and solemn, emotionally rich songs.

the nativity at congo square theatre

The commanding John Steven Crowley, as the angel Gabriel, narrates the story of  the birth of Jesus.  Sprinkled with African-American humor, The Nativity celebrates the Christmas holiday in a time-honored musical tribute that is surly to be a Chicago tradition. Kudos to Congo Square Theatre Company and McKinley Johnson for the concept originality and to Jaret Landon for the fine new songs. Kathleen Purcell Turner (Mary) and Pierre Clark (Joseph) danced Kevin legs Jeff’s stylish storytelling dances to perfection that begged for more.

the nativity at congo square theatrethe nativity at congo square theatre

Alexi J. Rogers leads the excellent cast of singers who produced  sweet harmonies and rich solos nailing all the emotions of the nativity story. A blend of gospel, blues, traditional Christmas tunes with hints of African rhythms, Jaret Landon’s deeply felt music raises the spirits of the season.  We hear favorites like “Oh Come All Ye Faithful,” Silent Night,” “We Three Kings’ and “Go Tell it on the Mountain” with sparkling blues-orientated arrangements.  This 90  minute song fest is an engrossing holiday treat rich in originality from an African-American tradition. It’ll lift your spirits.


Tom Williams

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