RE­VIVAL

The Beaufort Gazette - - Lowcountry Life -

what words it would be, how his voice would be,” Mu­sic said be­fore the pre­miere, at­tended by 350 faith, busi­ness and com­mu­nity lead­ers.

In ad­di­tion to Mu­sic’s and other con­tem­po­rary gospel tunes, spir­i­tu­als are used to ac­com­pany the story: “Down By the River­side,” in the scene where Je­sus is bap­tized by John the Bap­tist; “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep,” as Mary and Martha share a short-lived grief over the death of their brother Lazarus; and “Wade in the Wa­ter.” Dur­ing the lat­ter, dancers sur­round an on­stage boat and use blue strips of fab­ric to sim­u­late waves as Je­sus walks on wa­ter.

Len­nix said he chose the Gospel of John in part be­cause it was the poetic book that in­cluded “dense im­agery” that was “per­fect for film,” with the wed­ding at Cana – where Je­sus is said to have turned wa­ter into wine – and the rais­ing of Lazarus from the dead.

The for­mer Catholic sem­i­nary stu­dent – Len­nix had con­sid­ered join­ing the priest­hood – cited Ro­mans 8, which speaks of con­form­ing to God’s im­age, as a key mo­ti­va­tion for the peo­ple who part­nered on “Re­vival!”

“That’s a mighty thing: ‘So that you can be con­formed to look like him in his im­age,’ and no­body does that with us,” Len­nix said of black peo­ple. “So I’ve taken the lib­erty.”

T’Keyah Crys­tal Keymáh plays Re­bah, a fe­male mem­ber of the San­hedrin, the tra­di­tion­ally male tri­bunal of rab­bis, who calls for Je­sus’ death. She em­braced the fo­cus on what she called “the color cor­rec­tion” of the film.

“It’s not col­or­blind cast­ing, in my opin­ion; it is cor­rect,” said Keymáh, who was an orig­i­nal cast mem­ber of the sketch com­edy se­ries “In Liv­ing Color.” “The peo­ple of that time were brown, so this is, to me, not a black ver­sion of some­thing. It’s just telling of a story.”

“Re­vival!” is not the first time a pre­dom­i­nantly black cast has re­counted bib­li­cal sto­ries. Play­wright Langston Hughes’ “Black Na­tiv­ity,” which pre­miered more than a half-cen­tury ago, was adapted as a 2013 movie that mostly fo­cused on the baby Je­sus, Mary and Joseph.

More than a decade ago, Len­nix played a Pharisee – in the three gospels other than John – as part of an all-black cast of voices for the au­dio Bi­ble “In­spired By … The Bi­ble Ex­pe­ri­ence.”

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