Drawing from the Gospel of St. Luke and combining poetry and gospel music, poet, playwright, and social activist Langston Hughes first reimagined the classic Nativity story in December 1961. What was one of the first off-Broadway productions written by a black man and performed by an all-black cast has since become a holiday tradition presented throughout the world.
This year, that includes Erie, Pa.
The beauty and endurance of Hughes’ work comes from its room for exploration. Local companies are free to imbue their flavor, making each performance distinctive. Likewise, as a well-crafted narrative planted firmly in the soil of the Nativity story, it highlights the universality of the holiday season and its message of hope, love, and tenderness.
To celebrate one year of productions in the Gem City, Erie Theater Company will conclude its inaugural season with a one-night-only exploration of the text, music, and choreography of Hughes’ holiday masterpiece: a critically-acclaimed play featuring classic holiday songs but also including a few numbers crafted specifically for this interpretation.
So while the historically long runs of this production continue in cities ranging from Boston to Seattle, you don’t have to travel far for literary wonder brought to life on stage. — Ben Speggen
7 p.m. // The Bethany Center, 254 E. 10th St. // $15 // 646.406.1546; ErieTheaterco.org