Hansberry’s “Rejoice” is Musical Nativity Tale

By Carla

Kate Ball as Mary, Mirian Holloway Burnell as the kind villager, and Reggie D. White as Joseph.

“Rejoice” is a fast-paced, free flowing production that retells the birth of Christ.  The musical, written and conceptualized by writer Ron Stacker Thompson, adds edginess and humor to the nativity story currently performed through Dec. 31 at the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre in San Francisco.
Depicting the dilemma Mary (Kate Ball) must have faced being pregnant prior to marriage and the ridicule she may have endured from the villagers, the opening act appears to have been a bad dream until Angela the angel helps the couple wake up from what was just a nightmare.   Actress, vocalist Margarette Robinson portrays the angel and flawlessly sings “Wake Up,” encouraging Mary to be grateful for being “chosen to raise a Holy child.”
“Just taking an opportunity that someone presents has led to some wonderful places in life, and “Rejoice” is one of those opportunities,” said Thompson.
Spiced with humor, the lighthearted musical pokes fun at King Herod (James Jones) as a gaudily dressed dictator whose subjects refer to him as “Da Man.”  “I tried to make a very familiar story interesting with some unpredictable twists,” said Thompson.  
One of the most dynamic aspects of the production was Traci Tolmaire, the production choreographer, who spiraled on stage in tap shoes.  Symbolizing the star in the sky, she gracefully tap danced as the guiding light leading the Three Wise Men, portrayed by Rudy Guerrero, Terry Stanley and Luther Michael Spratt.  
“I wrote that scene a long time ago, and originally it was a song.  It came to me that guiding is movement, so I re-wrote it as a dance,” said Thompson.
Thompson, who attended the performance’s opening, said he has just completed two more scenes for the show, further continuing the relationship between Mary and Joseph (Reggie White). The production is directed by Margo Hall who is no stranger LHT, having starred in Lynn Nottage’s “Fabulation” and directed previous LHT productions such as James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” and Tracy Scott Wilson’s “The Story.”  
Thompson, a Bay Area favorite, was founder of the Oakland Ensemble Theatre in 1973.  “I just saw so much talent in the Bay Area and wanted to make things happen for the community,” he said.
Currently an educator at the University of North Carolina, Thompson says he started out as a teacher, is proud to collaborate with San Francisco’s Lorraine Hansberry Theatre and considers it a homecoming since many of the Bay Area actors and thespians worked with him at OET.
“LHT was created just as I left the Bay Area, and though I never had a chance to work with the co-founders, who died in 2010, I consider “Rejoice” an extension of the great legacy they left,” said Thompson.
Lorraine Hansberry Theatre is located at 450 Post. St. in San Francisco. To attend “Rejoice” click www.LHTSF.org or call the box office for tickets and memberships at (415) 474-8800.

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