Black Nativity – Musical – Review – Intiman Theatre

Elevator Thoughts (aka Tweet): Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity musical by Intiman Theatre & The Hansberry Project. Black church worship service Christmas pageant complete w/ a collection plate offertory & a hot gospel choir. Second act included an Xmas hymn singalong. Refreshing change of pace from Seattle’s homogeneity. “Amen and tell that!”

See it, especially if you’re looking for a religious-themed Christmas show. It’s also a great way to get your feet wet in the black church experience.

Synopsis from the Theatre: Langston Hughes’ Gospel Song-Play returns to Intiman Theatre in an all-new, reimagined production. The Christmas story gets a soulful retelling with actors, dancers, soaring vocalists, and a rousing city-wide gospel choir. The poetry and vision of Langston Hughes combines with gospel renditions of your favorite carols, and you’ll have the chance to raise your voice and sing-along. A stirring experience for families of all backgrounds and beliefs that shares the importance of hope and community.

Attended Performance Date: Opening Night 12/14/23 – Keep your eyes peeled for my preview posts for earlier notification of shows I’ve seen.

Type: Concert-like Musical

World Premiere: No

Several or Few Scenes: Several

Several or Few Settings/Locations: Several

Static (Stationary) Set? Yes

Prior Exposure/Knowledge Required: No, but you’d probably enjoy this more if you’re familiar with the story of Jesus’ birth and if you were once entrenched in Christian church culture.

Defined Plot/Storyline: Mostly no. Obviously, the story of Jesus’ birth was a storyline, but the church service portion of the show had no storyline.

Live Band/Orchestra: Yes, plus a 16-person gospel choir

Equity Actors: 5

Total Number of Actors: 5 main actors, plus 5 dancers, plus a couple of choir members

Perceived Pace of the Show: Medium Speed

Length (Including Any Intermission): 2 hours

Was there an intermission? Yes

Was This the First Time I Attended a Production of this Show? Yes

Would I See It Again 3 Years from Now? Probably

Other Rave(s) Not Mentioned Above

  • Favorite Songs: I was pleasantly surprised to hear the choir perform “Jesus Oh What a Wonderful Child” in the style of Mariah Carey’s classic version. Towards the end of the second act, they also sang tried and true non-Christmas gospel choir favorites like “Total Praise” and “Hallelujah, Salvation, and Glory.” It took me back to my high school choir days in a Christian academy near Louisiana.
  • Star of Bethlehem: Kearia Keke Duncan gracefully danced in a beautiful golden angel costume during “The Night that Christ was Born.” The scene was very moving.
  • Young Singers: Maya Michelle, Sa’Nia, and another young singer (comment on my social media if you know her name) sang a Christmas song (was it “Oh Holy Night?”) acapella with tight harmonies. I actually originally wasn’t expecting much from young high schoolers. But color me impressed with these promising up-and-coming artists.


  • Second Act Transition (Slight Spoiler): The second act weirdly began with a cheesy premise where the performers broke the fourth wall in an effort to involve the audience in a singalong. It would have felt less awkward if they 1) removed the intermission, 2) removed the cheesy fourth wall lines at the beginning of the second act 3) and immediately involved the audience after the last song of the first act. I think this would have portrayed a more organic, professional transition.

Other Musing(s) and Observation(s)

  • Collection Plate: Can I just say that it was a great idea (for the theatre at least) to pass around collection plates like we were really at church? I’m cheap and I was even inspired to give some money!
  • Felicia Loud: She was listed in the program, but she didn’t perform on opening night. I’m so curious to hear what I missed since she was great in The Amen Corner. I hope she’s okay…
  • Audience: Just like in Beautiful at Village Theatre, the audience just wasn’t “giving” during certain moments.
  • Difference from the Original Production: I’m curious how different this production is compared to the original. This show feels like it would allow for a much wider breadth of artistic license compared to traditional theatre shows. For all I know, it could be unrecognizable from the original production!

Theatre Company: Intiman Theatre

Venue: Broadway Performance Hall at Seattle Central College

Venue Physical Address: 1625 Broadway, Seattle, WA 98122

Price: Medium to expensive


Ticket Affordability Options: The ticketing website offers honor code discount options for students, military, industry, … or anybody. There are also 20 free rush tickets 1 hour before each performance.

Dates: December 12 to December 30, 2023

Seating: Assigned Seating

Parking: It’s Capitol Hill … so good luck. Try to take the bus. I think the cheapest parking lots are 1815 Harvard Ave, Seattle, WA 98122 and 1815 Harvard Ave E, Seattle, WA 98122, which are sometimes even cheaper than street parking. I paid $14 parking on the street!

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Other Video +/- Pictures: See pictures under video and in video by Joe Moore.

@showsiveseen #LangstonHughes "Black #Nativity" #musical by @Intiman Theatre & The Hansberry Project. #BlackChurch worship service #Christmas pageant complete w/ a collection plate offertory & a hot #gospel #choir. 2nd act included an #Xmas hymn singalong. Refreshing change of pace from Seattle's homogeneity. "Amen and tell that!" Photos: Joe Moore. Review: #theatre #showsiveseen #church ♬ Jesus Oh What a Wonderful Child – Mariah Carey
Choir and Cast of Black Nativity (2023). Photo by Joe Moore.
Dancers Kearia Keke Duncan, Alvedo, Iverson Harding, & DaeZhane Day. Photo by Joe Moore.
Makayla McGhee, Shaunyce Omar, DaeZhane Day, Esther Okech, Kearia Keke Duncan. Photo by Joe Moore.
Dancer Kearia Keke Duncan. Photo by Joe Moore.
Rontrell J. Brimmer and Choir. Photo by Joe Moore.
Choir and Dancers of Black Nativity (2023). Photo by Joe Moore.
Dancers DaeZhane Day and Iverson Harding. Photo by Joe Moore.
NarratorShaunyce Omar*
Narrator / Elder / ShepherdYusef Seevers*
Narrator / Old WomanFelicia Loud*
Narrator / Mary / WomanEsther Okech*
Narrator / Joseph / Man / ShepherdJarron A. Williams*
DirectorValerie Curtis-Newton***
Artistic DirectorJennifer Zeyl**
Managing DirectorWesley Frugé
CreatorLangston Hughes
Music DirectorSam L. Townsend Jr
ChoreographerVania C. Bynum
Scenic DesignerJennifer Zeyl**
Costume DesignerDanielle Nieves**
Lighting DesignerRobert Aguilar**
Sound DesignerMatt Starritt**
Stage ManagerPhillip Randall*
Assistant DirectorSteve Sneed
Assistant Lighting DesignerChih-Hung Shao
Assistant Stage ManagerMadelyn Salvucci*
Poster DesignerCade Roach
Band Leader, KeyboardDotcy Isom Ill
BassArthur Nelson
2nd KeyboardChandler Williams
DrumsPhilip Winston
ChoirSadiaa J. Alexander
Lulu Austin
Gena Brooks
Rontrell J. Brimmer
Tommie Burton
Sherri L. Charleston
Jamila Clemens
Dana Jackson
Jasmine Gartrell-Hall
Javonne Gartrell-Hall
Deneen Grant
Josephine Howell
Maya Michelle
Antwoine D. Parmer
Samara Reign
Dancers Alvedo
Daezhane Day
Kearia Keke Duncan
Iverson Harding
Makayla McGhee
* Member of Actors’ Equity Association
** Member of United Scenic Artists USA 829, IATSE
*** Member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society

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