Black Nativity Is Reborn

Langston Hughes' gospelized tale gets a modern update

When she was a girl of no more than 10, Kasi Lemmons was taken by her mother to see a production of Langston Hughes' gospel-inflected play Black Nativity at Boston's Tremont Temple. Her family returned year after year, and the "exuberance of the music and the glittering costumes" stayed with the future director of films such as Eve's Bayou and Talk to Me. Now she has adapted the musical, a holiday tradition in African-American communities, into a film with a stellar cast including Jennifer Hudson, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Mary J. Blige. "I was always drawn to musicals," Lemmons says,...

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