A new picture & review of @MaryJBlige in "Black Nativity"

April 30, 2013

'Black Nativity' puts modern twist on timeless story

A look at 'Black Nativity'
Black Nativity, due Nov. 27 and based on a half-century-old Langston Hughes stage production, hopes to join the likes of It's a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street as a yuletide tradition.

The reworked story of the birth of Jesus Christ is set in the inner city.

Story Highlight: Mary J. Blige dons wings to play an angel

HARLEM, N.Y. — On a frigid Saturday in early March as the midnight hour draws nigh, Mary J. Blige materializes on an outdoor basketball court sporting a blond mushroom-cloud of an Afro wig, a white leather maxi-coat and matching stiletto-heeled boots — along with a pair of giant wings perched on her back.

Among her audience: three goats hanging out by the bleachers.

This angelic queen of hip-hop soul is busy proclaiming the arrival of baby Jesus in song, exhorting a chorus of inner-city shepherds to rise and follow the star to the manger. It is all part of a dream sequence in the film Black Nativity, due Nov. 27, a visual mash-up of a preacher's Christmas Eve sermon and his napping grandson's dream of a Times Square Bethlehem.

Filmmaker Kasi Lemmons sports her own mountain of blond curls as she puts the Grammy winner through her heavenly paces here in the thematically appropriate St. Nicholas Park.

How did she convince the music superstar to participate in bringing this holiday-themed musical — which aims to join the likes of It's a Wonderful Life as a yuletide perennial — to the big screen?

"Mary is a wonderful talent and an incredible sport," Lemmons says. "You know, it's an angel. You don't get to do that every day."



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