'Black Nativity' returning to Milwaukee soon: 'Singing joy'

Between worldwide difficulties like the COVID-19 pandemic and local hardships like the Waukesha parade attack, Langston Hughes' "Black Nativity" soon returns to Milwaukee.

With opening weekend on the horizon, performers spend time at the Marcus Performing Arts Center getting ready for a show they hope will bring a lot of joy.

"Singing joy, singing God’s praises, that’s what I do," performer Brian D. Crawford.

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That is what all of this year's "Black Nativity" performers do, the all-local cast working to go from rehearsal to the stage.

"We add a little hip-hop swag to it, a little R&B, a little soul," said Director Dimonte Henning.

Rehearsal for "Black Nativity"

It takes hours upon hours to perfect, but the happiness of being back together again after a year off during the pandemic came naturally.

"We understand, got a mutual vision, making everybody hopeful again," Crawford said.

It comes during a time when smiles have not come so easily.

"This play has to be authentic, it has to be rooted in something organic, so we’ve talked about the Waukesha tragedy, we’ve talked about Rittenhouse, we’ve talked about Black Lives Matter, George Floyd," said Henning. "All of that, it’s a part of our community, and we can’t ignore that."

Marcus Performing Arts Center

Marcus Performing Arts Center

Negativity can be overwhelming, but joy is contagious.

"We don’t shy away from the struggles and the realities of what’s happening in real life," Henning said.

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"We all bounce off each other," said Crawford.

They want the audience to feel that, too.

"It’s just good to be a little bit of hope, little bit of light around the holiday time," Crawford said.

"Black Nativity" runs Dec. 9-12 for one weekend only. Tickets are on sale now.

The play is put on by Black Arts MKE. In addition to the weekend shows, they are hosting a community day Thursday, offering $5 tickets to dress rehearsal for anyone ages 18 and under.

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