HAMPTON, Va. (Nov 9, 2017) -- The Hampton Players & Company presents "Black Nativity,” in the Little Theatre of Armstrong Hall on the campus of Hampton University on Friday, Dec. 1, and Saturday, Dec. 2, at 8 p.m., with a Sunday matinee on Dec. 3, at 3 p.m.
One of the most beloved events for you and your family during the Christmas season is a presentation of “Black Nativity” by Langston Hughes. “Black Nativity” is a testament to the birth of Jesus Christ through the power of gospel music, telling the story of the Nativity through a combination of African American scripture, poetry, dance and song.
Dr. Karen Turner Ward, the director of "Black Nativity,” is a Professor and the Chair of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts at Hampton University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Drama and African American Studies from the University of Virginia, a Master in Fine Arts Degree in Acting from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a doctorate from Regent University.
Dr. Turner Ward’s professional activity includes producing, directing and acting. She has produced over 90 productions during her tenure at Hampton University.
She produced and directed "What Use Are Flowers?,” "The Colored Museum,” "Treemonisha," Desire Under the Elms,” "A Raisin in the Sun,” "The River Niger,” "The Amen Corner,” "Home,” "The Quiet in the Land,” "Ain’t Misbehavin’,” "Dream Girls,” "The Children’s Journey,” "Little Shop of Horrors,” "Grease,” "The Wiz,” "A Love To Call My Own,” "Through The Crack,” and "Crowns."
Dr. Ward’s played Aretha in "Legends,” Jewell in "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” Lena in "A Raisin in the Sun,” Reena in "I’m Black When I’m Singing, I’m Blue When I Ain’t,” a featured role in "Spoon River Anthology,” Widow of Florence in "All’s Well that Ends Well,” featured vocalist in "Side by Side,” Woman in "The Blue Hour… City Sketches,” Sister Boxer in "The Amen Corner,” Lady in Red in "For Colored Girls,” and a featured Vocalist in "Anything Goes.” Dr. Ward played the role of Billie Holiday in the Heritage Repertory Company’s "Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” which was presented at the University of Virginia and Theatre Virginia. She reprised that role in November 2016 at the Hampton Museum on Hampton University’s campus. Dr. Ward also co-starred with R & B singer Cuba Gooding, Sr. in the musical "Stop Cheating on God’s" Time for two years.
Dr. C. Perry Otto is the scenic and light designer for “Black Nativity.” This is his 24th season with the Hampton Players. He has designed sets and lights for numerous Players’ productions such as “Little Shop of Horrors,” “ A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “ Stick Fly,” “ Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,” “ How I Learn To Drive,” “ Dreamgirls,” “ The Lion in Winter,” “ Dearly Departed,” “ The Bluest Eye,” “ A Love To Call My Own,” “ Blues for an Alabama Sky,” “ A Raisin in the Sun,” “ Macbeth,” “ Smokey Joe’s Café,” “ Grease,” “ A Streetcar Named Desire,” “ West Side Story,” “ The Wiz,” “ What Use Are Flowers?,” “Shakin’ The Mess Outta Misery,” “ The Disappearance,” “Sasha and the Magic Cookie Maker,” “Tartuffe,” “Mama Dee’s Girls,” “Shakuntala,” “Dracula,” “Black Pearls,” “The Amen Corner,” “Steal Away,” “The Piano Lesson,” “The Emperor Jones,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” “40 Acres and A Mule,” “Once On This Island,” “One Mo’ Time” and “Equus.”
Corinne Langford, costume designer for “Black Nativity,” is from Flint, Mich. She is the assistant professor of costume design for the Hampton Players and is excited to be entering into her second year with them. She received her bachelor of science degree in theatre design and technology from the University of Michigan-Flint and her master of fine arts from the University of Memphis.
She has designed costumes for the Hampton Players’ productions of "Day of Absence,” "Happy Ending,” "Lion King Jr.,” "Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” "Common Thread,” "Annie Jr,” and "Blithe Spirit." She has also designed for the University of Memphis's productions of "Oklahoma!,” "How I Learned to Drive,” "Well,” and "Blues for an Alabama Sky,” the Desoto Family Theatre's production of "Oklahoma!,” and New Moon Theatre's production of "Titus Andronicus.”
Faye Walker, choreographer for “Black Nativity,” is a special educator with the Virginia Department of Correctional Education. She holds a master of education in behavioral disorders degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and teaches to special populations in Hanover, Va. She currently teaches at the Pine Camp Performing Arts Center as well as the Ezibu Muntu African Dance Center, and has also been included on discussion panels representing the Afrikan dance genre across the country. She is also a teacher and performer of Afrikan dance and one of the founding members of the Ezibu Muntu African Dance Company, beginning her tenure in 1973 while attending VCU. A Hampton native, Walker has studied extensively with many Afrikan and African-American teachers, performers, dancers, and musicians who are or have been considered masters of their art form. She takes pride in being one of the more notable Afrikan dance instructors currently providing knowledge, culture, and technique in Afrikan dance forms and traditions. She taught Afrikan dance at VCU for over 18 years.
Walker’s relationship with Hampton University and the Hampton Players is extensive. She has choreographed and staged musicals with Dr. Turner Ward for "I’m Black When I’m Singing, I’m Blue When I Ain’t,”" ….Sankofa,” "A Raisin in the Sun,” "The Amen Corner,” "Dream Girls" (’91),"Once On This Island,” "Ain't Misbehavin’,” "Little Shop of Horrors,” "40 Acres and a Mule,” "Mama Dee’s Girls,” and Scott Joplin's opera, "Treemonisha." She also assisted with choreographic movement in the first production of "A Love to Call My Own."
Additional choreography is being provided by Iris Goode-Middleton. Goode-Middleton has been a performing arts instructor for over 15 years. She holds degrees from the City University of New York’s York College and Queens College where she dual majored in theatre arts and dance. She recently received the master of arts degree in theatre at Regent University. She has extensive performing arts training from many schools including: Dance Theatre of Harlem, Broadway Dance Center, Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (JCAL), Theatre and Dance Alliance (TADA!), and 92 Street Y’s Dance Educators Laboratory, to name a few. She has worked as a teaching artist in New York City for many organizations including: Black Spectrum Theatre, Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, New York City Police Athletic League, New York Urban League, Jackie Robinson Center for Physical Education, The Afterschool Corporation and the Partnership for Afterschool Education.
She has worked as a choreographer on many productions. She has choreographed dance pieces for the dance department and the theatre department’s productions of the musicals "Sweeny Todd" and "The Wiz" for Carver School of the Arts. She did "Putnam County Spelling Bee" for Tri-Cities High School and University of West Georgia as well as "Rent" and "Bat Boy" for the University. She choreographed "For Colored Girls…" for the University of Georgia. She did dance sequences for two episodes of the first season of Lifetime television’s series "Drop Dead Diva." She also did the choreography for Andre Benjamin of Outcast’s musical production of “Class of 3000” at the Alliance Theatre.
Tim Ellis is a nine-year Hampton resident. He has been the drummer for productions such as "Crowns,” "Little Shop of Horrors,” "Through The Crack" and more. This year, he has taken on a larger role as the Musical Director for "Black Nativity." When not working with The Hampton Players he can be seen playing with his band On The Verge or at his local church Freedom Life Church.
Desmond Harrison is the vocal director for "Black Nativity" and co-owner of The VocalArt Company, a subsidiary of PlaylistSelect, LLC. Harrison is also a member of Alex Holt and Free Worship and serves as Praise & Worship Leader at Rock Center Church and Calvary Community Church. Harrison has worked with many national and local artists such as Dr. Peggy Britt, Grammy and Stellar Award winner Tasha Cobbs, Grammy winner Keli Nicole Price (Grammy Award Winner), Sunday’s Best Jermaine Sellers, Sunday’s Best Jessica Reedy, Chris House and many others.
The cast of "Black Nativity" features Khanner Hancock, Imani Drew, Taylor Persley, Cheyenne Barber, Ashia Williams, Mikayla Birens, Nayla Fair, Lauren Kingsbury, Kayla Harrison, Stephanie Smith, Nesiah Banks, Christeanna Lalla, Zariah Glover, Gerard Duvivier, Malachi Townsley, Joseph Wilkerson, Elias Fambro, Steven Hill, Justin Wright, Bridgette Wilson, Dymon Hickman, and Britney Atkins.
The Hampton Players and Company is a professionally run performing ensemble. The performers are not limited to the University stage, but have appeared on stages throughout the United States. For ticket information, call the Box Office at 727-5236 or 727-5402.
General Admission $12.00
Senior Citizens $10.00
Non-HU Students $10.00