MILWAUKEE — Chances are you have heard the traditional version of 'Joy To The World'. But you haven't truly experienced the song until you've heard it sung by the cast of the Black Nativity. They put their entire soul into their gospel cover of the song.
Black Nativity is a musical playing this weekend at Vogel Hall which is part of the Marcus Performing Arts Center. The show was written by the famous playwright and poet Langston Hughes. It's being performed by the Black Arts MKE cast.
The play is about the nativity story, or the birth of Jesus, but as told by an all Black cast. Traditional Christmas songs are performed in Gospel, R&B, and Hip-Hop styles.
“It is being un-apologetically black and inviting others to see what it feels like to be as confident as possible in your own skin,” Christopher DeAngelo Gilbert, the choreographer said.
The show runs this weekend only with performances at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 9, 10, and 11 and at 2 p.m. on Dec. 11 and 12. Tickets are $45.
“It’s all about feeling something that can you give purpose and intent. Everything about this is about taking you somewhere," Gilbert said.
The script has been adapted, so the second act is more modern and addresses issues like the COVID pandemic and gun violence in Milwaukee.
“Honestly I love the adaptation because it lets us embrace who we are," Brian Crawford, who plays Joseph, said.
Thursday morning, the cast performed for a packed house full of Milwaukee Public School students. They loved the call and response section. That wasn't a special thing done just for the kids. They will do that or every show. In fact, it's encouraged to get up and enjoy the music.
“If you feel a little toe tap, you want to get up and move, you know, respect the cover guidelines, but get up and do what you gotta do, you know. Have fun. Feel iT. That’s what we’re here for," Crawford said.