Forest Whitaker, playing a no-nonsense reverend, is joined by Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige and other leading stars in a modern adaptation of Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes’ classic Off-Broadway production.
Presented by Fox Searchlight Pictures, the holiday musical drama follows a Baltimore teen named Langston (Jacob Latimore) sent by his single mother, Naima (Jennifer Hudson) to New York City to spend the Christmas holiday with his estranged relatives, the Reverend Cornell (Whitaker) and Aretha Cobbs (Bassett). Finding the Reverend’s rules too severe, Langston makes up his mind to return home to Baltimore to be with his mother.
“Langston embarks on a surprising and inspirational journey and along with new friends, and a little divine intervention, he discovers the true meaning of faith, healing, and family,” according to a description of the film.
Tyrese Gibson, Nasir “Nas” Jones, Vondie Curtis-Hall are among other stars appearing in the film. Joy Goodwin executive produced the musical drama.
Kasi Lemmons, who directed “Black Nativity” and wrote the screenplay, called the film her “Godspell,” an Off-Broadway production from the ’70s.
“I was a huge fan of musicals as a kid,” she told USA Today. “The ‘Fantasticks was one of my favorites. And ‘Black Nativity’ spoke to my childhood, with ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and ‘Godspell.’ This is my ‘Godspell.'”
Langston Hughes’s play, originally titled “Wasn’t It a Mighty Day?,” debuted Off-Broadway in Dec. 1961. Still performed on stage today, “Black Nativity” retells the story of the birth of Jesus Christ from the Book of Luke with an all-black cast performing in song and dance.
“Black Nativity” will be in U.S. theaters starting Nov. 27.