‘Black Nativity’ by Langston Hughes returns to the Marcus Center’s Wilson Theater at Vogel Hall for 2018

December 6, 2018

Black Nativity by Langston Hughes will run December 7-16, 2018 with a special Community Night preview performance on Thursday, December 6, 2018 at the Marcus Center’s Wilson Theater at Vogel Hall.

Directed by Bronzeville Arts Ensemble’s co-founder Malkia Stampley, the production features returning music director/arranger, Antoine Reynolds and choreography by Daync Studio’s founder Christopher Gilbert. Black Nativity by Langston Hughes is a Black Arts MKE production in collaboration with the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. This presentation is supported by Bader Philanthropies, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Johnson Controls Foundation, United Performing Arts Fund, VISIT Milwaukee, and We Energies Foundation.

Each year Stampley inspires social change through acknowledgment of a current community issue through performance prologue and post-performance audience engagement. “I allow a social issue that affects Milwaukee and the national community to be a guide as I stage the production. I like to think of it as a backdrop, a seed that will grow on its own once you leave the stage” said Stampley. She added, “Our production takes place today, in a city like Milwaukee, so I also ask myself every year ‘is this relevant?’ In 2016, I was struck by the unrest in Sherman Park. In 2017, the killing of unarmed Black men still dominated my heart as well as the controversy of Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling and dismissal from the professional game of football. There are so many issues that touch my heart on a daily basis so it’s not always an easy task.”

“Bronzeville Arts Ensemble, a member of Black Arts MKE, tackles the role of presenting producer,” said the show’s Executive Producer Barbara Wanzo. This year marks our fourth year of Black Nativity by Langston Hughes and features many exciting show updates including new set design tagged by talented local youth artists from TRUE Skool. We are fortunate to have a knockout cast and team each year and this year is no different.”

Some of Milwaukee’s favorite performers return this year as well as some joining Black Nativity by Langston Hughes for the first time. Dimonte Henning (NBC’s Chicago PD, Milwaukee Rep’s Guys and Dolls, First Stage’s The Wiz, Forward Theater’s Skeleton Crew, Milwaukee Chamber’s D e a t h t r a p ) joins the cast as Joseph and Natalie Harris (national touring gospel recording artist, teaching artist, and three years of Black Nativity in Alabama) returns this year as Mary. Returning cast members include Tasha McCoy, Camille Hunt (singing the show stopping number “Rise Up Shepherd” as the Angel of the Lord), Michaela Usher, Shawn Holmes and youth ensemble members Nafia Johnson, Zephaniah Ponder and Carolyn Stampley. Additional new members include Raven Dockery, Brandite Reed, Justin Lee and youth ensemble members Raniyah Edwards, Ashlyn Woodley and Naima Gaines.

“The Marcus Center for the Performing Arts understands the importance of African American arts in our community for the ENTIRE community,” said Paul Mathews. Mathews, President and CEO of the Marcus Center. “As the community’s performing arts center, we strive for inclusiveness. It is our vision at the Marcus Center to provide the setting for outstanding arts experiences like Black Nativity by Langston Hughes for all of Milwaukee’s cultures.

Black Nativity by Langston Hughes opens Friday, December 7 through Sunday, December 16. Special pricing will be available for Community Night on December 6, 2018. Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased in person at the Marcus Center Box Office at 929 North Water Street, Downtown Milwaukee, by phone at 414-273-7206 or online at https://www.marcuscenter. org/show/black-nativity- 2018/ or Ticketmaster. com. Groups of 10 or more should call Group Sales at 414-273-7121, x210 or x213. Special church group pricing is also available. For more information, visit Marcus- Center.org.