The drama is not only reserved for the stage.

Powerhouse singer and actor Jamecia Bennett, who won Grammys as the lead singer of the Sounds of Blackness and has starred in shows at some of the biggest stages in the Twin Cities and the nation, has left "Black Nativity," Penumbra Theatre's soulful holiday show.

Bennett posted her reasons for her decision Friday on Facebook, saying that she was compelled to make a public statement because rumors were circulating implying that she was behaving like a diva.

"I respectfully left because I have to protect my instrument," Bennett told the Star Tribune. "I can't do 26 shows with horrible sound, then take a month to heal my voice."

Bennett said she quietly parted ways with the production Dec. 3.

Sarah Bellamy, Penumbra's president and CEO, said Saturday that artists must make difficult decisions for themselves all the time. She said Bennett is a part of the Penumbra family and always welcome to come back, but that the show did not miss a beat.

"Our perspective is that an actor stepped away and the show must go on," Bellamy said. "And in a world beset by deep pain and devastation, it is beautiful."

Singers Velma Williams and Layce Dreamz stepped in to handle the seven numbers that Bennett sang.

Bennett came to this year's "Nativity" late as a replacement for Greta Oglesby, who is now in "A Christmas Carol" at the Guthrie Theater. "Nativity" had a compressed rehearsal calendar, Bellamy said, because most of the players, including bandleader Sanford Moore, singer Dennis Spears and narrator Jennifer Whitlock, have been with the show for years.

"We have an ensemble that supports everyone for success, and whether you're green or a seasoned member, everyone deserves a chance to learn the business," Bellamy said. "I'm not denying that there are challenges or will be challenges. But when we're not our best, people stand in the gap for us."

The specific sound issues Bennett cited included monitors that were not working. She also said that the theater's sound engineer was an inexperienced fill-in who did not know how to modulate her big sound.

"If you can't hear yourself, you can blow out people's ears and damage your voice," she said. "And if you don't have a great sound engineer, you can damage your vocal cords and cause them to strain and develop polyps or nodules."

Bennett said she was already developing some of the issues that point to "vocal abuse," including hoarseness, breathiness and a scratchy voice.

Penumbra is undertaking a comprehensive expansion plan that will see it build out programming in equity and healing, in addition to arts. The company also plans to upgrade its facilities and equipment in the next three years, Bellamy said, and that includes sound equipment. Still, she insisted, "we didn't have these problems last year, and we're not going to have them next year."

Based on a Langston Hughes oratorio, "Nativity" retells the story of the birth of Jesus with gospel, spirituals and carols, plus other jazz- and R&B-inflected tunes. The show has raised the roof at Penumbra since 1987 with stars such as Oglesby, PaviElle French and the late Yolande Bruce.

This year's production was staged again by Penumbra founder Lou Bellamy with narration by Whitlock.

On opening night, no sound issues were apparent to audience members.

"I love Penumbra, and I did this show 20 years ago when I didn't know as much as I do now," Bennett said. "I have to protect myself if I want to have longevity in this business."