Gospel-Flavored Nativity Musical to Premiere at Hopewell Theatre

YOUNGSTOWN – “Child of Glory: A Gospel Nativity,” a musical written and directed by Mahoning Valley theater veteran Carla D. Gipson, will premiere Dec. 9 at Hopewell Theatre.

The family-friendly show joyously tells the Christmas story with traditional music as well as original gospel and hip hop songs that give it a contemporary flair.

“Child of Glory” is not the first piece of theater Gipson has created, but it’s the first one to be produced on this scale.

“Most of my work has been for church presentations or private events for a particular occasion,” she said.

Because “Child of Glory” has the potential to become a perennial holiday show, Gipson intends to have the script published so that the rights could be made available for other theaters who want to produce it.

Gipson started writing “Child of Glory” in 2006 as a one-act show. She eventually expanded it, adding songs and scenes. The show now clocks in at just over two hours, including intermission.

She wrote the script and all of the lyrics, mainly working in the multiple musical styles that fall under the gospel umbrella.

The music was arranged by Bishop Leo Ferguson, James Ferguson and Dana “DJ Propain” Bryant. For the performances, Ferguson will provide musical accompaniment on keyboard.

“The main genre is gospel, but there are different styles within that genre,” she said. The score of “Child of Glory” includes them all, including Christian hip hop, ballads, and “the traditional church sound of a Baptist church.”

Gipson chose the musical genre for each song with the characters in mind.

“I asked, ‘how would they sound, what style would they sing in, and what would they say?’” she said. “For example, the shepherds in the field would probably rap, so they do [in my show].”

The cast of visitors to the nativity scene goes beyond the magi, Gipson said.

“We also get the accounts of the shepherds on the night of the birth of the lord, and also the townspeople,” she said.

“Child of Glory” features a cast of 16 that includes Shiree Wilson, Pareese Smith, Bobby Brown Jr., La’Rayja Hill, Rick Haldi, Marteece D. Waters, David Brown, Dana Dreyling, Conner Burney, Joshua Yoder, Brayden Norvell, Craig White, Gail Holsing, Loiis Thornton, Chiara Chambers, LaTasha Dendy, Merashah Cox, Tay’ler Cox, Arcale, Peace, Malivia Blackmon Davis and Karey Rivers..

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9 and 10; and 2 p.m. Dec. 11. A limited number of tickets are available for a performance at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4.

Tickets are $15 ($12 for seniors and students, $7 for children 12 and under) and can be purchased in advance at hopewelltheatre.org or by calling 330 746 5455. Hopewell Theatre is located at 702 Mahoning Ave.

Pictured at top: The cast of “Child of Glory: A Gospel Nativity,” which opens Friday at Hopewell Theatre.

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