Black Arts MKE: Black Nativity kicks off Milwaukee’s holiday season next week, December 7-10

MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee’s favorite holiday musical with soul is back and better than ever. Black Arts MKE’s production of Black Nativity by Langston Hughes, will take place at Marcus Center’s Wilson Theater at Vogel Hall from December 7-10, 2023. This year, Black Nativity introduces a new creative force with Director Ashley Jordan, a prominent actor and director based in Milwaukee, joining forces with the esteemed Artistic Director Wanyah Frazier. Together, with an outstanding creative team, they have embarked on a thrilling journey to reimagine this classic musical, deeply rooted in the celebration of the Black family.

Artistic Director Wanyah Frazier provides an example of the production’s evolution, highlighting a contemporary duet between dancers Kimi Evelyn and Ella Lakey to the soulful tones of ‘Sweet Baby Jesus.’ Frazier states, “Their movements exude an ethereal quality and there’s a luminous glow on stage. This is a pivotal moment where the individual narratives of these two exceptional artists gracefully converge, giving rise to a harmonious and authentically beautiful expression of Blackness. I’m excited to take this to a bigger stage and for audiences to experience this powerful and resonant moment.”

For Media Only: 2023 Black Nativity Press Kit.


The creative team, conducted by Artistic Director, Wanyah Frazier, is dedicated to elevating the production in every aspect, including music, dance, costuming, and set design. International professional dancer and teaching artist, Debrasha Greye leads the choreography and will craft vibrant and emotionally resonant dance sequences, paying homage to the legendary Alvin Ailey. Respected music producer, Antoine Reynolds returns for his seventh year to direct a full live band that shares the stage with drummers from the dynamic Drums Up Guns Down 414. Costume stylists Kyndal Johnson and Vato Vergara return to evolve their designs to further embrace the afro-centric diaspora and spoken word artist, Denzel Taylor lends his powerful voice to the Spirit of God throughout the play. Lastly, the stage design expands to include architectural elements representing different parts of Bethlehem and Milwaukee.

“As a new director, I want to introduce multiple artistic influences throughout the world of today with Black traditions and iconic moments throughout the history of Black Nativity performances,” said Ashley Jordan, Director. “Black Nativity 2023 shifts in dynamic energy, relevance and also a dichotomy of righteousness, redemption, and oral tradition. Black Nativity is an anchor in the community and to those who experience cultural variations of the African, and African American diaspora.”

Don’t miss this captivating, reimagined Black Nativity by Langston Hughes – a heartwarming celebration of the Black family, both past and present. This year’s production promises to be a testament to the rich tapestry of African American culture, filled with mesmerizing performances, soul-stirring music, and awe-inspiring dance.


Christian Adams, Tabitha Andrews, Nathan Berry, Zoe Chambers, Nakyah Collier, Amari DeBerry, Raven Dockery, Dos Feurtado, Amber Gray, Sanaiah Hibbler, Johnathyn Kerkenbush, Ella Lakey, Matthew Lewis, Jasmine Love, Martin Da’Costa, Tyler Reynolds, Nyk Reynolds, Derrick Sanders, Melesha Spears, D’Shaunta Stewart, Denzel Taylor, Malinda-Christine Tillman, William Toney

Black Arts MKE’s Black Nativity by Langston Hughes is generously supported by BMO Harris Bank, Bader Philanthropies, Forest County Potawatomi Foundation, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Gruber Law Offices, Harri Hoffmann Family Foundation, Herzfeld Foundation, Johnson Controls Foundation, Old National Bank, PNC Bank, We Energies Foundation, ArtsMidwest, and Yip Harburg Foundation.


Musical performance schedule featuring post-show talkback (inclusive run time 2 hours):

·      Thursday, December 7, 2023, 7:30PM (Student Matinee 11:00AM)

·      Friday, December 8th, 2023, 7:30PM (Student Matinee 11:00AM)

·      Saturday, December 9th, 2:00PM & 7:30PM

·      Sunday, December 10th, 2:00PM

ASL Interpreted Performance: Saturday, December 9th, 2023 at 2:00 p.m.

This performance will be sign language interpreted for patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing.


December 7-10, 2023


Community Night $25

Marcus Center Box Office, 929 N. Water St., Milwaukee, WI, Call 414-273-7206

Groups of 10 or more should contact Group Sales at 414-273-7121, x210


Black Arts MKE’s mission is to increase the availability and quality of African American arts and culture. We’re a Black-led performing arts organization who serves predominantly Black communities. We produce, present, and/or commission new performance arts works including classic works, readings, conversations, and festivals, as well as Black-led institutions focused on Black audience development, all rooted in the full diversity, complexity, and intersectionality of the Black Experience. Black Arts MKE’s annual signature events – MKE Black Theatre Festival and Black Nativity by Langston Hughes musical are annual Milwaukee favorites and feature all-black, MKE-area based cast. We’re a recipient of the APAP ArtsForward, NEA Grant for Arts Projects, The Black Seed and Theatre Communications Group national awards. Black Arts MKE is a producing theatre with World Premier Wisconsin. We are a member of TYA/USA, proud Member Group of the United Performing Arts Fund and Resident Group at the Marcus Performing Arts Center. Black Arts MKE is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation.