Modern take on old tale

Dancing homage: Female cast-members presenting as a seventies girl group in “Soul Nativity,” a play depicting a remixed version of the nativity story, running at the Harlem School of Arts until Dec. 23.
Steven Schnur

It’s a funky and modern take of an old tale!

The Harlem School of Arts returns this year with it’s back by popular demand Christmas play, “Soul Nativity,” which will run until Dec. 23 at the Harlem School of Arts. The artistic director of the play which opened Dec. 9, says the Christmas-themed play is a youth-inspiring production creating a lot of buzz.

“We have gotten so much amazement and sold out tickets,” said Alfred Preisser, artistic director of the play. “It’s really exciting for young people who want to be a part of something and create something — to be part of this excitement.”

The dance musical play is a snazzy rendition of the nativity story, and follows Mary and Joseph in modern-day New York, depicting the reactions of people if it were to happen today. Preisser says fans find it hilarious.

“There’s a lot of humor — there are scenes where people are gossiping about Mary and Joseph and how a 16-year-old could possibly be pregnant with God’s baby,” he said. “When you hear what the cast will say — it’s funny.”

The 45-member-cast sings and dance to classic Motown tunes, rhythm and blues, and gospel music, and even transform from current fashions into the outfits of popular singing groups, said Preisser.

Switch!: Characters dress as Arab shiekhs before they switch into new costume transformations.
Steven Schnur
Steven Schnur
Steven Schnur

“We have people dressed as Arab Sheiks, and under it they have on classic Temptation’s jackets and they’ll sing in harmonies and perform dance moves,” said Preisser.

But it is the new choreography by celebrity-choreographer, Otis Sallid, which Preisser says is the best addition this year. Sallid’s exceptional style attracts and compliments “Soul Nativity” and the youthful energy the Harlem School of Arts seeks to display, said Preisser.

“Otis is one of the best — I’ve seen him do things in theater for companies and teens, with an amazing level of expertise,” he said. “He’s a storyteller in his choreographer and it’s important for our young people to be exposed to that because my students respond to him well.”

Preisser wants families to enjoy the story, but mostly kids, because theater he says is an explorative outlet for creativity to aid them discover their self-awareness, he said.

“It’s unique and energetic,” said Preisser. “It’s their show and they own it. I’m concerned for our young people and theater can held them feel good about themselves.”

“Soul Nativity” at the Harlem School of Arts [649 St. Nicholas Ave. between W. 141st Street and W. 145th Street in Harlem, www.hsanyc.org, (212) 926-4100]. Dec. 23, 7 pm. $25 for adults and $15 for students.

Underneath the sheikh costume, cast members reveal themselves as The Temptations, a popular male singing group.
Steven Schnur
Steven Schnur
Steven Schnur

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]local.com.

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