Interview with Black Nativity Director Stephawn Stephens

The cast of Theater Alliance's 2011 production of Black Nativity in rehearsal.

What first attracted to you Black Nativity

I first saw the show as a kid.  The performers in the production had such powerful voices, and the music, coupled with the story, was so moving and a huge part of my upbringing in a religious home.  I fell in love from the first note and clamoured to be in the production,

How have you seen the production evolve over three seasons of performances? 

With each year I have tried to raise the stakes by elevating the production value and standards.  I asked musical director Michael Terry to give the songs in the show a “facelift,” and he has done an outstanding job with that task.  I  was very meticulous during the casting process in order to bring specific kinds of energy from the performers to the stage in a way that I think will best retell this wonderful story.  Overall, I believe the evolution of the show is in the performances and talents of a great cast

Ayanna Hardy performs in rehearsal.

What is most exciting to you about the 2011 production? 

This year I have a new choreagrapher who is a Black Nativity veteran, Tony Thomas.  The ideas and skill he is bringing to the stage through the cast is phenomenal.  Plus, he is dancing the role of Joseph, and he is mesmerizing in performance.  We have added a few new songs and brought a couple of favorites back that I am sure audiences will enjoy.

What are some of your favorite memories of Black Nativity over the years? 

One stellar moment I remember is from the first year of Theater Alliance’s production of Black Nativity when we used a live baby for Jesus.  To hear the audience gasp, then coo and ahhhh in amazement was wonderful.  He was at every performance and never once gave any problems.

Director Stephawn Stephens watches the cast rehearse with board member Julia Robey Christian and board president Adele Robey.