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'Black Nativity' holiday show is born again

Angel Hill, Darlene Hall and Allean Huff lend their voices to Black Nativity: A Gospel Song Play at St. Petersburg’s Palladium Theater during rehearsal Thursday. Performances will be held at 7 p.m. today, Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free.

LARA CERRI | Times

Angel Hill, Darlene Hall and Allean Huff lend their voices to Black Nativity: A Gospel Song Play at St. Petersburg’s Palladium Theater during rehearsal Thursday. Performances will be held at 7 p.m. today, Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free.

ST. PETERSBURG — For five years, residents flocked to the Palladium Theater to watch the community performance of the Black Nativity.

The play, Langston Hughes' famous interpretation of the Christmas story, became a beloved tradition and drew as many as 800 people to each performance.

But last year, for the first time in six years, Black Nativity was canceled after the nonprofit Soulful Arts Dance Academy, which produced the play, ran into financial difficulties.

This weekend, the show will make a comeback.

"We're building this show back up," said Sandy Tabor, who is producing this year's run.

This year's show will incorporate more traditional gospel and spiritual songs, Tabor said. Performers also will be garbed in African costumes, and unlike previous years, most of the cast members are adults.

Director Bob Devin Jones said the show is a gift to the community. All shows are free.

Jones and Tabor said it was painful to see the show missing from last year's holiday season.

This year's production is happening thanks to Studio@620, the Palladium and a few individual contributors, they said.

Black Nativity is really important to cities," said Tabor, who added that all major cities that are committed to the arts have such productions. "We are committed to keeping that tradition in St. Pete."

>>FAST FACTS

If you go

Black Nativity is at 7 p.m. today at the Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. Shows also will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

'Black Nativity' holiday show is born again 12/02/10 [Last modified: Thursday, December 2, 2010 9:47pm]
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