‘Black Nativity’

Just in time for Christmas, Boston tradition "Black Nativity" has returned to the stage.

The jubilant Biblical journey of Mary and Joseph, culminating in the birth of Jesus Christ, was created by famed playwright and poet Langston Hughes.

"I love coming to 'Black Nativity' because the people and the choir are so uplifting," said Ashley Villard. "To see the audience come alive every time somebody hits a high note and when someone brings the holy spirit in the play. That's what makes me come back."

Villard does it all in "Black Nativity." She sings in the chorus, even performs a solo, and serves as child narrator. Like many of the cast members, she literally grew up performing in the Boston production.

"I've been in 'Black Nativity' for 13 years since 2001. So yeah, I first started when I was in kindergarten," Villard said.

Hughes said he created "Black Nativity" to be a gospel song play. Audiences appreciate that the music of the 2015 Boston ensemble stays true to the 1961 original Broadway production. Ballet infused with African dance and drumming sets the show apart from other Biblical musicals.

"You'll find the audience clapping for periods of time," said retired Judge Milton Wright, a longtime member of the ensemble. "Sometimes they stand up, and once we had the whole audience shouting and that was a great great day!"

For 29 years and counting, Judge Wright has performed and serves as adult choir director for "Black Nativity" in Boston, the longest world's longest running production of the show. He believes the production can provide a much needed message to all audiences.as the nation tries to make sense of recent global tragedies.

"If you want to see a solution to our problems today, let everyone sing. Let everyone dance. Let everyone enjoy art," Wright said.

"Black Nativity" runs until Sunday, Dec. 19, at the Paramount Theatre. For more information, click here.

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