Liberty Theatre Partners With Big Saxy Band for 3rd Annual Production of ‘The Black Nativity’

Dec 10, 2015

For Immediate Release


Liberty Theatre

P.O. Box 1844

Columbus, GA  31902




Liberty Theatre Partners With Big Saxy Band for 3rd Annual Production of The Black Nativity


-Written By:  Dr. Shae A. Anderson

-Cast Photo: Piett Photography


Columbus, GA—12.10.2015:  Luke 2:15 reads  “When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’”  This verse sets the stage for Langston Hughes' Black Nativity! The Liberty Theatre is excited to usher in the 2015 holiday season with its 3rd annual production of Langston Hughes' Gospel Song Play – Black Nativity produced by special arrangement with Dramatic Publishing Company.  The Black Nativity is a “joyous gospel musical celebrating the birth of Christ," and was first performed Off Broadway in 1961; the production went on to tour Europe in 1962.   Since then, organizations around the country look forward to this annual production of the story of the Nativity told with a primarily African-American cast.


We are extremely excited about the production team for this year’s show! It’s shaping up to be our best year yet.  The Black Nativity “Dream Team” is comprised of Christopher De’Angelo (Artistic Director), Ishmael Markael (Co-Director/Music Director), Sherrie Gilbert (Music Director), Ashley Weatherford (Choreographer), Brandon Sparks (Stage Manager), and Eliana Gilbert (Assistant Stage Manager.)  De’Angelo and Markael are both graduates of Albany State University's Speech & Theatre program.  Christopher De’Angelo is currently employed as an Administrative Assistant for Columbus Parks and Recreation and is an instructor/choreographer at Company C Academy of Dance.  Ishmael Markael is employed by Company C Academy of Dance as the voice and acting instructor, The Liberty Theatre Maestro, Enrichment Services Program Center Assistant, and as the Minister of Music for Nazareth Baptist Church.  Sherrie Gilbert, a Spelman graduate, is a vocalist who is also a Communications faculty member at Auburn University, where she is also earning her Ph.D. in Adult Education.  Ashley Weatherford is employed by the Department of Corrections and works as a choreographer in her free time. Corporal Brandon Sparks is currently stationed in Fort Benning, where he works as a dental hygienist; Sparks has recently answered a calling to enter the ministry.  Eliana Gilbert is a junior theatre major at Columbus State University who brings a wealth of knowledge to the production and the theatre overall.   Also serving as consultant and Box Office Manager is Jordan High math teacher and playwright/director extraordinaire - Mr. E.L. Stiles.  Mr. Stiles not only brings 30+ years of experience writing and directing stage plays, but also a wealth of tips and expertise that are  huge assets to the Liberty staff and the  production team. The Liberty is also honored to have professional seamstress/tailor/costumer, Ms. Brenda Edwards on board as the show's costumer.  When not costuming, Ms. Brenda works at Chancellor's Men's Clothing Store as a tailor and also does freelance work altering and making clothing for clients in her spare time.  


Everyone on the team had already been giving their time and talents to the theatre in many ways over the years, so when we started thinking about this year’s show - figuring out the production team was a no brainer. They are amazing, and I’m beyond honored they accepted their offers.  Just having them around is so much fun! The 2015 cast of The Liberty’s production features over 20 men and women of all ages from throughout the city and beyond, including Richard Adams.  Adams is Director of Housing and Residence Life at Albany State University and the On Campus Advisor of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., He brings a rich background in theatre and music to the production, and we are thrilled to have him on board.  The role of  Mary is played by CSU student Tierra Watkins, and Joseph is played by Justin Watts a talented student from CVCC. Both Tierra and Justin have participated in productions and programs at The Liberty Theatre before.


Not only does this year’s show have a stellar production team, and an outstanding cast,  but an extra blessing has come along this year in the form of a live band ! Musical Director Sherrie Gilbert says, “For the first time  ever, this year’s production will feature a live band – The Big Saxy Band! This quintessential quartet features Charles “Big Saxy” Robinson (Saxophone), Michael Johnson (Keyboard), Jasper “Jaz” Hoskins (Drums), and Nicodemus Green (Bass).”  As she headed off to prepare for rehearsal, Gilbert said, “The Liberty is honored to have The Big Saxy Band grace the stage with their groundbreaking role in this year’s production.”  Most may recognize the members of The Big Saxy Band from performances throughout the city as either Silent Threat or The Chemistry Project.  Check them out at The Suite on Thursdays and Sundays and at other venues throughout the city.


The energy surrounding this year’s production of  The Black Nativity has been absolutely breathtaking.  The production team is energetic and working around the clock, the cast members are working tirelessly, and the community has really embraced this year’s show, and it is evident in the ticket sales.   It would not be possible without the support of our amazing sponsors as well: Davis Broadcasting, Columbus Times, TSYS, AFLAC, and Kinetic Credit Union. We are particularly thankful to the Columbus Georgia Convention and Visitor’s Bureau for the Cultural Arts Grant that helped make this event possible again this year.  We are beyond excited about where we are already with ticket sales, and we would love to have a sell out show each night. Attendees will not be disappointed.


The show opens on December 11th   at 7:30, and runs December 12th at 7:30, and December 13th at 4:30pm.  Special guests will open the show each night. On Friday, the mime ministry from Fully Alive Ministries (Pastor Shirisma Fanning) will open the show, the Royal Elite Dance Team (Anita Newsome) will open the Saturday Show, and The Liberty Youth Performance Choir (Ishmael Mc Kinstry - Musical Director) will open the show on Sunday.  Louise Anderson, long term substitute teacher at the mighty George Washington Carver High School, is the choir's Coordinator/Artistic Director. 

Tickets are $15.00 in advance and $20.00 day of show.  They may be purchased at,, ; by visiting The Liberty Theatre between 1pm and 9pm this week.


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