The birth of a Savior, reimagined in Harlem. Mary and Joseph find their way along the traffic of 125th Street. Though not as old as the ancient story, this timeless production has been alive since 1995.
Starring the bright faces of the Harlem School of the Arts, the holiday spectacular features dance, live music and a soulful story that has changed with the times.
“The way that we do the show - we do it in a modern setting, not 2,000 years ago in the Middle East, we set it in New York City,” said Alfred Preisser, Artistic Director of HSA.
Preisser has directed and produced of over 50 shows in New York and Europe but still remains committed and connected to the story that’s evolved over the years.
“I’ve done the show with André De Shields who’s a Broadway star, I’ve done the show on 141st Street with students,” he said. “So it’s over 20 years I have a relationship to this show and Tracy, who’s giving notes to the cast right now, was actually a 12 year-old girl in the first version of Soul Nativity that I ever saw.”
Soul Nativity 2015 joins an ensemble of performers including the Dorothy Maynor Singers, the HSA Young Theatre Alliance, the Harlem Japanese Choir and the Voices of Flame Choir.
“We are heavily influenced R&B, the sound of Motown,” he added. “We’re referencing Gladys Night and the Pips and contemporary acts, and there’s enough room and humor in the story for people to really express themselves and be themselves.”
With a mix of traditional and new this year’s production include a ballet interlude choreographed by Aubrey Lynch. The creative team includes Tracy Jack, director, and Jeffrey Bolding from the Abyssinian Baptist Church.
“There’s actually a lot of heart and some serious messages at the bottom of all this song and dance,” said Preisser. “It’s like celebrate life, and if you are religious celebrate the life of everybody.”
The show will also debut for the first time British Virgin Islands on Dec. 4, while partnering with a youth empowerment program in Tortola, before opening at home in Harlem on Dec. 11.
For over 50 years, the premier arts institute has a history of devoting its programs to enriching and developing talented professionals across all disciplines in the arts.
HSA is located on 645 St. Nicholas Avenue, at 141st Street, Hamilton Heights. For information on Soul Nativity 2015 visit: www.hsanyc.org. Tickets are $20 in advance; $25 at the door; $15 for students.