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Black Rep shows why it is simply the best

Black Rep shows why it is simply the best
December 19
00:00 2014
(pictured above: NC Black Rep Photo by Larente Hamlin Some of the cast members of “Black Nativity.”)

The North Carolina Black Repertory Company wrapped another performance season of “Black Nativity” Sunday afternoon, leaving a legion of new fans in marvel and renewed in the holiday spirit.

A Black Rep mainstay for more than 14 years, “Black Nativity” is an artistic tour de force, an intricate and expert meshing of song, dance, poetry,

Robinson

Robinson

monologue and music. Black Rep Artistic Director Mabel Robinson is the genius behind the show. As director and choreographer, she has helmed the production from the beginning, elevating what easily could have been a trite retelling of Christ’s birth into a majestic, Afrocentric jewel whose sparkle has attracted fans from as far away as South Carolina and Virginia.

The performers are as luminous as the regal African garb they don. They are the Triad’s best, and their immense talents would surely go untapped were it not for the Black Rep. “Post racial America” claims aside, black theater is still where our stars are allowed to shine in all their glory.

All the cast are triple-threats – actors with powerful voices and dance skills to boot. The troika of Dr. Jean Rattigan-Rohr, whose rich Jamaican accent gives regality to her narration; LaShon Hill, who in the second act uses her seasoned vocals to praise Jesus’ arrival; and Bethany Heath, a member of local gospel music’s First Family, who delivers one showstopper after another.

Male talent is not lacking. Lazarus LeGrant, Alfred Clemonts, Joshua Greer and Kevin Rashaan Caesar command the stage, as do the dozens of other performers and the skilled musicians – led by Musical Director Tony Gillion – who accompanied them.

The Black Rep has long set itself apart from the pack in the “City of the Arts,” where one can hardly take four steps without bumping into a theater company. The late Larry Leon Hamlin started the company in 1979 with a no-half-stepping mission. Productions were top-notch and Broadway quality from the beginning. Mabel Robinson and company are continuing to do Hamlin proud. His mission and legacy are furthered with each Black Rep production and each successful National Black Theatre Festival.

The Black Rep will have a busy 2015. It will hold its annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration on Thursday, Jan. 15; its Teen Theatre will stage Samm-Art Williams’ “Excelsior” from Friday, Feb. 20 – Sunday, Feb. 22; another Williams’ production, “Home,” will be staged Friday, March 13 – Sunday, March 15; from Friday, April 17 – Sunday, April 19, it will present Reader’s Theatre of New Works; the powerful musical “The Glory of Gospel,” written and directed by Robinson, will be presented Friday, May 15 – Sunday, May 17. The 2015 National Black Theatre Festival will be held from Monday, Aug. 3 – Saturday, Aug. 8.

For tickets and/or more information, call the Black Rep at 336-723-2266 or go to www.ncblackrep.org or www.nbtf.org.

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