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For theater lovers this season, a ‘Black Nativity’ history and a Scrooge or two

A scene from a past production of "Black Nativity." With no live performances this year, the National Center of Afro-American Artists will present an online documentary about that production’s remarkable history.Idly Galette

BLACK NATIVITY: 50 YEARS OF TRIUMPH AND TRANSITION A retelling of the Christmas story via a “gospel song-play” by the great Langston Hughes, “Black Nativity” has long been a beloved holiday tradition in Boston. This year, in place of the traditional live production by the National Center of Afro-American Artists, there will be a premiere of an online documentary, presented as part of a virtual gala and auction, about that production’s remarkable history. Along with interviews with some of the artists involved in the production, the documentary will explore the legacy of the legendary arts educator Elma Lewis, founder of the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts and the National Center of Afro-American Artists, as well as John Andrew Ross, the composer and choral conductor who served as music director of “Black Nativity.” Produced by ArtsEmerson, “Black Nativity: 50 Years of Triumph and Transition” will be presented on Dec. 12.

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma will appear in this year's "Christmas Revels."Jason Bell

THE CHRISTMAS REVELS 2020 Cellist Yo-Yo Ma is the special guest for this year’s “Revels,” written and directed by Patrick Swanson, with musical direction by George Emlen. It will be the first time in 50 years that the show will not be performed live in Sanders Theatre. In response, Swanson has devised a story in which the marble statues of James Otis (played by Paula Plum) and Josiah Quincy (Richard Snee, Plum’s husband) that stand on either side of the Sanders stage come to life and recount their memories of the songs, dances, and rituals they have heard and witnessed over the years. Subtitled “A 50th Anniversary Virtual Celebration,” this year’s Revels will also feature performances drawn from the “Revels” archives. Christmas Revels 2020 passes are $50 per household for unlimited VOD access from Dec. 18-31. On sale at

A CHRISTMAS CAROL Did you really think a pandemic was going to stop this chestnut from making its annual appearance? Well, think again. Providence’s Trinity Repertory Company will begin streaming a free digital production of “A Christmas Carol” at noon on Dec. 17. Directed by Curt Columbus and featuring Trinity Rep stalwart Joe Wilson Jr. as Ebenezer Scrooge, it will be available on demand through Jan. 10. Details and registration at 401-351-4242 or The White Heron Theatre Company of Nantucket is releasing an audio podcast adaptation of the Dickens classic titled “A Nantucket Christmas Carol,” narrated by none other than Christopher Plummer. Other notables in the cast include Celia Keenan Bolger as Belle, Judith Ivey as the Ghost of Christmas Past, and Jeremy Shamos as Bob Cratchit. The audio will be available on most podcast platforms on Dec. 15. Audiences can also participate in a benefit “watch party’' on Dec. 14. “A Nantucket Christmas Carol’' will also be broadcast by 97.7 WACK-FM on a schedule that is still to be announced.




Don Aucoin can be reached at Follow him @GlobeAucoin.