Alfred Preisser and Tracy Jack’s holiday gospel pageant BLACK NATIVITY NOW, starring two-time Emmy Award winning actor Nikkieli DeMone (“Bad Street”, “In The Eyes Of God”, Miss Saigon, Rent, Ragtime, Jesus Christ Superstar, Sideshow), and featuring Jeff Bolding (Great Men of Gospel), Jarvis Manning Jr., Breanna Bartley, Naja Jack, Melanie Charles, Tracy Jack (TSweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory, Best of Both Worlds, ARCHBISHOP SUPREME TARTUFFE), Vincent Leggett, Brittney Mack, Amma Osei and Stephen Scott Wormley, had a limited five week run, Off-Broadway at the Theatre at St. Clement’s, 423 West 46th Street in New York City from December 3, 2010 – January 2, 2011.

During the Off-Broadway limited run of BLACK NATIVITY NOW, audience members and the BLACK NATIVITY NOW producers collected “offerings” collected after the show for several different New York charities, donating $800 to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids (BC/EFA), $1000 to the Salvation Army Zimbabwe Orphanage Project, $500 to the Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation, $750 to the Harlem Arts Theatre and $500 to the Salvation Army Jirah Meal Program in Central Harlem.

BLACK NATIVITY NOW features an original score and musical direction by Kelvyn Bell, choreography by Tracy Jack and direction by Alfred Preisser, and is produced by Jeffrey Glaser, Christopher McElroen, Alfred Preisser, Dana Watkins, Kingsize-USA & 9One Productions.

 Below are excerpts of reviews from The New Yorker, The New York Post and Show Business.

Goings On About Town: The Theatre
Black Nativity Now
Review by Rollo Romig

At the beginning of this dazzling show, a musician (Kelvyn Bell, who composed the original score) steps onstage with an electric guitar and describes the church of his youth, built on the muddy ground of Buckwater, Missouri. “I just wanted to share some of the love, and some of the mud,” he explains, launching into the gospel standard “Up Above My Head.” There’s a lot more love and mud to come: for the next eighty minutes, the ensemble just keeps topping itself in a blend of modern-dress nativity story, rousing revival meeting, and, most of all, first-rate soul-gospel revue. Alfred Preisser, director and co-writer (with Tracy Jack), lends wit and vitality to the tropes of each of these forms; it’s a rare pageant that delivers this much warmth, energy, and depth of feeling.

The New York Post
The gospel truth is, it’s entertaining
Review by Frank Scheck

A series of rousing musical numbers accompanies the story of Joseph (Jarvis B. Manning Jr.) and the heavily pregnant Mary (Breanna Bartley) — whose condition doesn’t prevent her from breaking out some serious dance moves — as they make their way to the manger.

photo: Lia Chang  caption: Breanna Bartley (center) dances up a storm as a very pregnant Mary in this fun holiday musical.

photo: Lia Chang caption: Breanna Bartley (center) dances up a storm as a very pregnant Mary in this fun holiday musical.

Much of the fun stems from the unorthodox depictions of the classic biblical characters, from the hipster, sunglasses-wearing shepherds to the Afro-haired, platform-shoed Three Wise Men.

Show Business Weekly
Black Nativity Now
Review by Ethan Kanfer

Replete with an infectious energy and a dazzling display of musical talent, Black Nativity Now manages to strike a perfect balance. It is sentimental without being cloying, and deeply spiritual without being preachy.

Co-writers Alfred Preisser and Tracy Jack have set their holiday gospel pageant in a present day urban setting that could be the city where you live, to tell the story of the birth of Christ from a fresh and wholly original perspective. This contemporary setting provides a heartfelt reference point for an evening of exuberant music and dance that celebrates humanity’s need for hope and grace.

BLACK NATIVITY NOW unfolds within an intimate and passionate church presided over by a pastor heavily influenced by Broadway show-biz. Supported by a choir of singers and dancers who perform musical sets infused with gospel, pop, funk, and soul, BLACK NATIVITY NOW  is the universal story of mankind’s search for salvation and “peace on earth.” Appropriate for all ages, and perfect for everyone who loves music, dance and the holiday season.  

BLACK NATIVITY NOW  has set design by Evan Collier, costume design by Mia Bienovich, lighting design by Kate Ashton, sound design by Janie Bullard, musical direction and guitar by Kelvyn Bell, David “Red” Harrington on bass, Chris Eddelton on drums, stage management by Katie Hong and press by Lia Chang.



Alfred Preisser is an award winning director, writer and producer of theatre. He has led over forty professional productions in New York and regionally. His recent hit Caligula Maximus  will  play the House of Yes in Brooklyn in March 2011.  From 1999 – 2009, Mr. Preisser was the Founding Artistic Director of the Classical Theatre of Harlem, where he created a wide and distinguished body of work noted for its physicality, originality, and use of music and dance. Award-winning highlights include his 2009 production of ARCHIBISHOP SUPREME TARTUFFE starring André De Shields (four Audelcos); Melvin Van Peebles’ Ain’t Supposed To Die a Natural Death (seven Audelcos); and his 2006 production of King Lear with André De Shields which opened the 75th Anniversary season at The Folger Shakespeare Theatre in Washington D.C. He has created critically acclaimed original adaptations of Medea, The Trojan Women and Electra. Other productions in New York include Macbeth, which toured Germany in 2004, Hamlet, Day of Absence, Dream on Monkey Mountain and Romeo and JulietHe is a visiting artist and professor of theatre and directing at City College of New York, and is working with Professor Eugene Nesmith, Associate Professor, and Chair in the Department of Theater at CCNY, to create The New Haarlem Arts Theatre, a professional summer theatre company for the school. Blues for Mister Charlie and Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk are among the productions for 2011 season.

His work has been recognized with the American Theatre Wing Award (Outstanding Artistic Achievement), Drama Desk Award (Artistic Achievement), Edwin Booth Award (Outstanding Contribution to NYC Theater), Lucille Lortel Award (Outstanding Body of Work), two Obie Awards (Sustained Achievement and Excellence in Theatre) and numerous Audelco Awards.

Tracy Jack is a New York based writer, actor and choreographer. Recent acting and choreography credits include include Melvin Van Peebles’ Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (Paris, France), André De Shields’ Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory, J Kyle Manzay's claymation television series It's All Elementary,Diane Paulus and Randy Weiner’s Best of Both Worlds (Cambridge MA) and Alfred Preisser’sARCHBISHOP SUPREME TARTUFFE , just to name a few. Ms. Jack is the founding director of The Triple Threat Performing Arts Academy, an arts intensive program designed for teens and young adults who have a strong desire to work in the industry.  She is also currently developing BALAFROHOP, an epic dance performance that tells the story of a young woman caught in the midst of a troubling love triangle. BALAFROHOP is a seamless mixture of contemporary, African and hip hop dance and was successfully debuted at the City Parks Foundation's SummerStage 2010.

Kelvyn Bell is a guitarist, composer and musical director. He has been a contributing innovator to The Association for the Advancement of Creative Music (AACM), Black Artist Group (BAG), m-Base, The Harlem School of the Arts, The St. Louis Jazz Hall of Fame and The Black Rock Coalition (BRC), of which he is a founding member. Mr. Bell has toured internationally and recorded with Arthur Blythe, Lester Bowie, Steve Coleman & Five Elements, James Carter, Maceo Parker and the JB’s, Living Colour, and Joseph Bowie & Defunkt, of which he is a founding member. Mr. Bell has been the resident composer for The Classical Theatre of Harlem since 2002. His theater credits include Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,  Black Nativity, Trojan Women, Macbeth, King Lear, Hamlet, and ARCHBISHOP SUPREME TARTUFFE, for which Mr. Bell won the 2009 Audelco Award for Best Musical Direction.

 All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2011 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at

New York Amsterdam News Review: BLACK NATIVITY NOW
NY POST: The Gospel Truth is, it’s entertaining
BLACK NATIVITY NOW Photo Gallery on BLACK NATIVITY NOW Review BLACK NATIVITY NOW Review review of BLACK NATIVITY NOW Inspirational Ensemble of Convent Avenue Baptist Church to Perform in Black Nativity Now
Salvation Army Temple Corps. in central Harlem to Benefit from Ticket Sales of Alfred Preisser and Tracy Jack’s BLACK NATIVITY NOW
Multimedia: Alfred Preisser and Tracy Jack’s BLACK NATIVITY NOW Rehearsal Photos
Full Cast and Creative Team Announced for Alfred Preisser and Tracy Jack’s BLACK NATIVITY NOW, 12/3-1/2/11 Harlem Japanese Gospel Choir, Winners of the 2010 McDonald’s Gospel Fest, To Perform in Alfred Preisser and Tracy Jack’s BLACK NATIVITY NOW, 12/4, 12/11 and 12/18BBW: Nikkieli DeMone Joins the Cast of BLACK NATIVITY NOW 12/3-1/2/2011
Bishop & Emmy Award Winning Actor, Nikkieli DeMone Set for Alfred Preisser & Tracy Jack’s BLACK NATIVITY NOW
Abyssinian Baptist Church Choir Director, Jeff Bolding Joins Alfred Preisser and Tracy Jack’s BLACK NATIVITY NOW
Theatermania: Emmy Award Winner Nikkieli DeMone Set for Alfred Preisser and Tracy Jack’s Black Nativity Now
BWW: Abyssinian Baptist Church Choir Director, Jeff Bolding Joins BLACK NATIVITY NOW
BWW: Tix Now on Sale For BLACK NATIVITY NOW, Show Opens 12/3 Alfred Preisser and Tracy Jack’s Black Nativity Now
BBW: Black Nativity Now Set for Limited OffBway Run at The Theatre at St. Clements Black Nativity Now to Play Theatre at St. Clements This Winter

The New Yorker Events Listing
The New Yorker Events Listing
The New Yorker
The Faster Times Black Nativity Now by Alfred Preisser and Tracy Jack Black Nativity Now: A Gospel Celebration Black Nativity Now: A Gospel Celebration Black Nativity Now Black Nativity Now Black Nativity Now Theater Listing

Related Articles:
CALIGULA MAXIMUS Spotlight: 6 Questions for Alfred Preisser, Director and Co-Playwright
Three-Time Audelco Nominee Tracy Jack Joins the Cast of CALIGULA MAXIMUS
Multimedia: Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory: From Douglass to Deliverance Opening Night Photos: Andre De Shields, Mercedes Ellington and Alfred Preisser
André De Shields in Archbishop Supreme Tartuffe among’s 2009′s Ten Memorable Theater Moments
Classical Theatre of Harlem’s Archbishop Supreme Tartuffe, MTC’s Ruined are Top Winners at 2009 Audelcos
Director Alfred Preisser Sets His Sights on a New World Stage
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive.


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