BLACK NATIVITY: A Gospel Song Play
Soulful Arts Dance Academy and The Studio@620 Invite you to attend a concert performance and preview celebration of Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity
“It all began with that first Star in Bethlehem almost two thousand years ago – the Star that brought us to the Manger to kneel at the feet of Christ.” Langston Hughes
Soulful Arts Dance Academy invites you to attend a concert performance and preview celebration of "Black Nativity". This will be the fifth annual production of what is becoming a holiday classic.
BLACK NATIVITY: A Gospel Song Play will be held at the Studio@620 on Tuesday, November 18 at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free but reservations are required to secure a seat.
Starring Sharon Scott
Directed by Bob Devin Jones
Choreography by Paulette Walker Johnson
Musical Direction by LaTerry Butler
Featuring Marque Lynche, September Penn, and Marvia “Joye” Watkins
Black Nativity will also be presented on December 5, 6 and 7 at the Palladium at 7:30 pm. Admission for these performances is also free. To reserve seats for these dates please call 727-521-6133 or visit www.mypalladium.org. More information about Soulful Arts Dance Academy can be found at www.soulfulartsdance.com.
About the Program
Combining the poetry of Langston Hughes’ with the gospel music of today, Black Nativity touches a special chord in the hearts of all. It’s a celebration that tells the original story of the Nativity in scripture, verse, music and dance. First appearing on Broadway in the mid-1960s, it is considered the African American community’s Christmas gift to the world. You are invited to join this year’s featured cast in a preview of the 2008 community production of Black Nativity scheduled December 5-7 at the Palladium Theater.
This work is produced annually with great success in many major metropolitan areas – including Boston, Seattle, and Minneapolis – and has become part of holiday traditions in these communities as well as in St. Petersburg. Our vision is that the child who dances in this year’s production may be the director 15 years from now.
About the Performers and Producers
Sharon E. Scott, The Narrator. The New York Times wrote of her, "she is a performer of size and vocal quality that overwhelms the stage and is a pyrotechnic personality with all the dazzle of a Fourth of July fireworks display." Sharon began her career in New York and has performed around the world; touring with several national and international companies, appearing in North and South America, Australia, Mexico, Canada, Europe, and Singapore. Ms. Scott has been seen in several Off-Broadway productions such as HIGH-HAT HATTIE, a one-woman play based on the life of Hattie McDaniel, the unforgettable "Mammy" in GONE WITH THE WIND. Ms. McDaniel was the first African-American to win an Oscar. HIGH HAT HATTIE was born from an idea by Ms. Scott, who was not only the initiator of the project, but was also an essential element in the writing and premiere productions. Sharon has also appeared Off-Broadway in BINGO, directed by Ossie Davis, produced by Lee Minskoff and choreographed by Henri LeTang. Sharon is blessed to be a part of this production of BLACK NATIVITY. She adores the role of the Narrator and having the opportunity to work with Bob, Paulette, LaTerry, Sandy, the incredible Mr.Rouson and all the babies. Sharon has appeared in several productions of AIN'T MISBEHAVIN', directed by such notables as Susan Stroman (Crazy for You) and Marion Caffey (Three Mo' Tenors). Sharon has performed her one- woman show at Chimjes in Singapore. She was requested after having an incredible run of NUNSENSE in both Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Sharon performed in the Florida Premiere of MESHUGGAH NUNS, the fifth installment of NUNSENSE. The show was directed by the Nunsense writer/producer Dan Goggin. Ms. Scott has toured in HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT EVEN TRYING (directed By Mackenzie of EVERYONE LOVES RAYMOND & REBA). Credit s include: A phenomenal production of GEM OF THE OCEAN, The Voice of the plant AUDREY 2 in LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, A national tour of KISS ME KATE and SHOWBOAT. Regional theatre productions of CROWNS, MANHATTAN CASINO, THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA, SPUNK, TAPESTRIES, SATCHMO, NUNSENSE, NUNSENSE 2: THE SECOND COMING, SWEET CHARITY, JERRY'S GIRLS, SOUTH PACIFIC, AND THE WIZ. Sharon was a part of a wonderful concert series with the Florida West Coast Symphony, with an unprecedented presentation of 4 concerts. She was also a featured vocalist with the Venice Symphony. Sharon has also appeared as a featured vocalist for the Salzburg Orchestra, while in Austria. Sharon has shared the stage with many noted performers and had the honor of opening for Mr. Alex Haley, author of ROOTS, shortly before his death. I truly believe God is the creator of all things, and for that with which I have been blessed, I thank God.
Marque Lynche. began his career in Los Angeles, California. Marque wrote and preformed in THE AWAKENING OF WILLIE SKIDMORE at the Watts Community Center in Los Angeles. Marque also appeared in the musical production of UP FROM JUMP STREET at the Greek Theater. In St. Petersburg Mr. Lynche performed with the NORTH CAROLINA AFRICAN DANCE TROUPE. Marque also appeared in PORGY AND BESS. In Sarasota, Marque has appeared as Henri in The Golden Apple Dinner Theater’s production of SOUTH PACIFIC. Also at the Golden Apple, Marque has appeared in the musical production of SHOWBOAT. Marque is a featured member of the LIFE ANCHOR CHOIR at St. James Methodist Church and a guest soloist in many area churches. Marque is thrilled to be a part of BLACK NATIVITY. Marque reminds us all; “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
September G. Penn. September, a soprano soloist, is a songwriter and gospel singer. In June 2007, she performed in Beijing with the National Theater Company of China for the international premiere of Passages of Martin Luther King. As a member of the play’s musical ensemble and as one of its musical coordinators for the Beijing performance, September has seen her responsibilities grow since she began working as a regular member of the cast while studying at Stanford University. She also played Dr. King’s mother, Alberta Bunch King. September is the worship leader at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Clearwater. This is her third performance with the cast of Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity. She has written many songs, including the theme song for a short feature length film. Her other credits include the role of Lala in The Colored Museum while a student at Virginia Tech and a role in Stanford University’s Vagina Monologues, as well as a singer with the Voices of Expression (Virginia Tech), Stanford Gospel Choir and the Stanford University Singers (Stanford University). September is collaborating with cast member Joye Watkins on a play entitled Selah, No More Secrets – One Woman’s Story. She is the wife of Ivan Penn, and the mother of Ivy, Isaiah and Immanuel, the role she loves best.
Marvia “Joye” Watkins. Joye brings her exceptional vocal talent to Black Nativity for the fifth year in a row. An accomplished singer, Joye has performed with the Thomasville Music and Drama Troupe and participated in recordings done by the Georgia Mass Choir and William Perry and the Sound of Prayer. She has been the youth choir director, the mass choir director, and participant in the dance ministry at Moore’s Chapel AME Church. She’s a member of Word of Life Fellowship. Joye is collaborating with cast member September Penn on a play called Selah, No More Secrets – One Woman’s Story.
Bob Devin Jones – Director and Executive Producer. Bob Devin Jones is a writer, director and performer. He is originally from Los Angeles and has trained at the American Conservatory Theatre - San Francisco, and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art - London, England. Bob Devin Jones has received play commissions from theaters across the country including "Miss Julia" for American Stage in St. Petersburg Florida, and "Parallel Lives" with the Florida Humanities Council, "Clarissa Street Reunion" for the Geva Theatre in Rochester, New York, and the "Millennium Monologues" for the Sacramento Theatre Company in California. Bob's first play "Uncle Bends, a home-cooked Negro narrative" was developed at the New Works Festival at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. He has performed "Bends" at the Cork Arts Festival in Ireland, the Sacramento Theatre Company, the New York Theatre Workshop, American Stage in St. Petersburg, and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. For the past several season Bob has been resident director for the Low Country Shakespeare Festival in Beaufort, South Carolina; directing the "Tempest", "Romeo and Juliet", "Macbeth", "Much Ado About Nothing", and "Twelfth Night" among others. Other directing assignments include "From the Mississippi Delta" at American Stage, Playhouse on the Square in Memphis, Tennessee, Sacramento Theatre Company, and Soul Repertory in Dallas, Texas. Bob's numerous awards and grants include the Weekly Planet Best of the Bay 2001 Directing, Theatre Communication Group (TCG) Artist Collaborative Grant, Los Angeles Cultural Affairs, and Florida Humanities Council Grant. He is the writer of “Manhattan Casino” that debuted in St. Petersburg in 2003. He is a founder and artistic director of Studio @620. Bob recently directed “Gem of the Ocean” for the American Stage. This is his fifth year directing Black Nativity.
LaTerry Butler – Musical Director and Executive Producer. LaTerry has toured extensively, both nationally and internationally, with the Broadway Show AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’. Other credits include THE WIZ, SHOWBOAT, WEST SIDE STORY, DREAM GIRLS, BUBBLING BROWN SUGAR, PURLIE, EUBIE, ALL NIGHT STRUT, FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE and the New York world premier of HI-HAT HATTIE. Originally from Michigan, he earned his B.A. degree from Wayne State University. Having done post-graduate studies at both Juilliard and Manhattan School of Music in NYC, (specializing in classical vocal-accompaniment/coaching and jazz improvisation), he also earned the Colleague Certification from the American Guild of Organists. Mr. Butler was first place winner (instrumental category) in the region-wide WWRL Radio Gospel Search Contest in New York City. He was also a semi-finalist in the jazz category of the National Yamaha Electone Organ Festival. LaTerry appeared as featured keyboardist for a luncheon involving Vice-President Al Gore in New Jersey. Other appearances include: accompanist for Tramaine Hawkins in Kingston, Jamaica; Pianist for Rev. Ike; Interim Choir Director for the Sarah Vaughn Memorial videotaped at the Apollo Theater; and Pianist/Keyboardist for “A Holiday Festival” at Lincoln Center, N.Y.C.! Mr. Butler, who recently musically directed Stage Aurora Theater’s production of CROWNS in Jacksonville, FL, was also recently tapped by to be the music director for a St. Petersburg, FL production of BLACK NATIVITY, is currently Director of Music Ministries at the St. James United Methodist Church in Sarasota. Mr. Butler also serves as a substitute music teacher in the county school systems of both Sarasota and Manatee Counties in Florida, during his spare time. He and his wife, Tammy Elaine, a 4th grade school teacher and singer/actress, are now part of the Sarasota Soul Sensations nostalgia R&B Band. They are thankful to God for the ability to prosper in the performing, visual and teaching arts.
Sandy Tabor – Producer. Sandy has spent her career as a fund development and communication professional working with educational and charitable institutions in Florida, Kansas, and Missouri. Originally from the Kansas City area and a graduate of the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and an MBA, Sandy spent her youth studying operatic voice and classical piano. She is inspired by the caliber of young talent Black Nativity is helping to nurture in St. Petersburg. “The vision of Black Nativity is simply this: we want the child who dances in this year’s performance to be the director ten years hence. It is our goal to pass along a holiday tradition that becomes a highly anticipated part of the artistic fabric of our community.” This is her fifth year producing Black Nativity