Meet the Cast: The Black Nativity Stageplay at Grambling State’s Opening Night

NativityTonight’s the big opening night. The Grambling State University Choir will perform “The Black Nativity.”  The stage play is the iconic telling of the Christmas story as written by author and the “Poet Laureate of Harlem,” Langston Hughes.

The play’s story most recently made headlines in 2013 when Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, and Jennifer Hudson brought it to life on the big screen. This week, GSU’s own star cast will revive the live version for a 3-day north Louisiana showing featuring band direction by gospel group Forever Jones musician William B. Taylor.


The Black Nativity Stage Play
7 p.m. Nightly
Wednesday, November 28 to Friday, November 30th

Free and Open to the Public (Donations Accepted)
Conrad Hutchinson Performing Arts Center
123 RWE Jones Drive Grambling, Louisiana 71245

Meet Grambling State’s All-Star Cast:

 Adarian D. Williams (Narrator/Elder) is a native of Simsboro, LA. He is a senior, pursuing a double major in Liberal Arts and Visual & Performing Arts at Grambling State University, the place “Where Everybody is Somebody.” Adarian has been greatly involved during his college career, serving as the 2014-2015 SGA Freshman Class President, the 2015-2016 SGA Sophomore Class President, the 2016-2017 SGA Chief of Staff, the 2017-2018 SGA President and Student Member to the Louisiana Board of Regents, a Student Ambassador, a member of the University Concert Choir, the NAACP, the Floyd L. Sandle Players Theatre Company, the GSU Earl Lester Cole Honors College, and the National Society of Leadership and Success. He is also a brother of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America, Inc. Adarian is currently serving his 2nd term as SGA President. During his free time, he enjoys singing, reading, acting, public speaking, and leading and motivating others. Adarian has been featured in several theatrical productions including “The Bad Seed” (Mr. Daigle),” A Tribute to the Harlem Renaissance,” “Blues for an Alabama Sky,” (Sam), “The State of Mississippi & the Face of Emmett Till,” (Moses Wright), Langston Hughes’: “Jerico-Jim Crow,” (Old Man), “The Mountaintop,” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), “Gypsy,” The Musical (Yonkers), and “The Soldier’s Play,” (Pvt. Henson).

Dwedee Kobbah (Mary) is a freshman and hails from Charleston, West Virginia majoring in Mass Communication. Dwedee began performing in middle school and went on to perform in noted productions such as: “Little Shop of Horrors” (chiffon), “High School Musical On Stage” ( Taylor McKesson), and “Sister Act, The Musical” (Tina). Dwedee was also given the opportunity to perform with ARTS International in California as a feature actress. Dwedee lives by the motto: “I believe that the privilege of a lifetime is being who you are, truly being who you are.” (Viola Davis). Dwedee has had extensive training in vocal music, acting, and dance and hopes to use her creative skills to make a difference in the world.

Michael J. Harper (Joseph) is a Visual and Performing Arts major with an emphasis in acting and technical theatre, from Tallulah LA. He is a senior and aspires to become a professional voice over artist

Isaiah Bass (Inn Keeper) is a native of Houston, Texas! He is currently a freshman at Grambling State University and is making steps to further enhance his God-given talents of singing and acting. Isaiah has been blessed to become a professional thespian, acting on tour with the gospel musical “Ain’t Always Been Saved” during the summers of 2017 and 2018. Isaiah recently appeared in Grambling State University’s first theatrical production of fall 2018, “Stadium View” He thanks everyone for supporting his dreams and aspirations in life!

Victoria Eggleston (Old Woman) is a native of Shreveport, LA., a freshman, Victoria aspires to become an Attorney. Victoria’s acting credits include Dorothy in the “The Wiz,” Yolanda in. “Crown,s,” Stage Manager in “Our Town,” “Four Little Girls” (Carole Robertson) and “Gee’s Bend” (Young Sadie).Victoria has always had a love for the arts and is a budding actor and entertainer. She is a member of the Thespian Honor Society and Tri-M International Music Honor Society. She is also an award-winning actress and recently won Best Leading Youth from the Southern Black Theatre Festival. Her fascination with singing was exhibited as a featured headliner in concert at the 30th & 31st Rho Omega, “Let the Good Times Roll Festival.” Victoria hopes to one day grace the silver screen and stages of the world. She is grateful for this opportunity to share her gift.

Lesli Woods (Woman) is a junior at Grambling State University, majoring in Music Education. She is a native of Columbia, Missouri. Lesli has performed in multiple musicals including “Anything Goes,” Roger’s and Hammerstein’s, “Cinderella” and “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Clause.” A gifted and noted vocalist, Lesli has participated in various ensembles including the Grambling State Concert Choir and the Missouri Ambassadors of Music for over a decade. She aspires to become a Music Educator who will become a catalyze for informing the world of the importance of the arts and thereby motivating individuals to reach their dreams.

Isaiah “Zellie” Bass (Ned-Shepherd #1) is a native of Houston, Texas! He is currently a freshman at Grambling State University and is making steps to further enhance his God-given talents of singing and acting. Isaiah has been blessed to become a professional thespian, acting on tour with the gospel musical “Ain’t Always Been Saved” during the summers of 2017 and 2018. Isaiah recently appeared in Grambling State University’s first theatrical production of fall 2018, “Stadium View” He thanks everyone for supporting his dreams and aspirations in life!

Kenderick Shaw (Jed-Shepherd #2) is a freshman Theatre Arts Major and is a native of Winnsboro, LA. Kenderick makes his stage debut as a university thespian in tonight’s production.

Joshua Burley (Zed-Shepherd #3) is a native of Corinth, Texas. Joshua is a junior at Grambling State University majoring in Mass Communication with a concentration in broadcasting. Before arriving at the Grambling stage, Joshua performed in leading roles of “Beauty and The Beast,” (Beast) “Best Christmas Pageant Ever,”(Mr. Bradley) “Shrek the Musical,” (Shrek), “Mary Poppins” (Bank Chairman) and “Poseidon King of the Sea” (Poseidon). As a thespian at Grambling State University, Joshua has appeared in leading roles in “Bus Stop,” ( Dr. Gerald Lyman) and recently in “Stadium View” (Malcolm Perry). Upon graduation, Joshua plans to continue his education at the New York Film Academy after which, he intends to pursue a career as a film actor.

Artemio Schofield (Wiseman #1/ Stage Manager) is a junior from Bastrop, LA. , majoring in Visual and Performing Arts here at Grambling State University. His dream is to become a professional actor. During his matriculation at Grambling State University, he has appeared in “Bus Stop,” (Carl), “Flyin West”( Wil Parish), and “Vivien” (Vivien). In addition to his acting skills, he has served as the stage manager for several productions: “Choir Boy” and “Stadium View.” Artemio stands by the quote “I am STRONG because I have been WEAK. I am FEARLESS, because I have been AFRAID. I am WISE because I have Been FOOLISH.”

Jonah Copeland (Wiseman 2) is a sophomore at Grambling State University, majoring in Visual and Performing Arts. Jonah is a native of Long Beach, California. His acting credits include “Taming of the Swag” (a modernized Lucentio), “Willy Wonka” (Grandpa George and Oompa Loompa). Jonah made his stage debut at Grambling State University in the recent production of “Stadium View,” (Hamilton). You can also catch this talented thespian on his own YouTube channel, “Just Jonah TV.”

JA’Keem D. Smith (Wiseman 3) is a native of Farmerville, LA. He is a Visual and Performing Arts Major with a Concentration in Dance. He has appeared in “The State of Mississippi & the Face of Emmett Till,” “Dance His High Praise,”

Ruth Elizabeth God (Soloist/Worship Leader/Assistant Musical Director) is a senior who aspires to become a Music Educator. Ruth intends to continue her education after graduating from Grambling State University in a teaching program in the Baton Rouge, La area seeking to obtain a Masters in Administration from Southern University. Her ultimate goals are to teach music for a few years to obtain additional experienced in the field. Her major aspiration is to take a school from its lowest point and help it excel past the highest point of excellence, by leading it as a principal. Since arriving on the Grambling campus, Ruth has acquired active membership in the Beta Omega Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. She is a member of the Grambling State University Concert Choir, serving presently, as a soprano section leader. A position which requires a lot of time and effort and even some teaching. When not spending time at school, she enjoys singing or playing piano, which also helps to finance or education.

Cornelius Denzel Jackson (Worship Leader) is a native of Jonesboro, LA. He is a junior, majoring in Vocal Music. Cornelius made his acting debut last spring in the Floyd L. Sandle Players production of “Choir Boys.” He lives by the scripture: “The Joy of the Lord is my Strength! and attributes that scripture for his growth and blessings in life.

Meet the Directors:

Band Director – William B. Taylor
William B. Taylor was born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana into a musical family of 10. At the age of 16 did his first tour with Grammy-nominated, Dove and Stellar award-winning group Forever Jones. Since then, his musical directing has included traveling the world and working with some of America’s most well-known religious leaders and gospel music artists including The Potter House of North Dallas under Pastor Sheryl Brady and Bishop T.D. Jakes, James Fortune, Micah Stampley, and Crystal Aiken.


Musical Director and Choral Conductor – Natorshau M. Davis

Natorshau M. Davis is in her twenty-first year as a Music Educator. She earned undergraduate degrees from Louisiana Tech University in Vocal Performance and Vocal Music Education. She received her master’s degree in Music Education from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Ms. Davis has earned Levels I, II, and III Certifications in Somatic Voicework from the Contemporary Commercial Music (CCM) Vocal Pedagogy Institute at Shenandoah Conservatory of Music.

Ms. Davis is currently the Assistant Professor of Vocal Music and Choral Director at Grambling State University. She has also taught in Desoto, Lincoln, Caddo, and Red River Parishes.

This “distinguished” vocalist is an active recitalist and has performed many leading roles in various stage plays, operas, and musical theatre productions. Some of her lead roles include: Anna Maurant from Street Scene, Angelica from Suor Angelica, Queen of the Night from Die Zauberflöte , Bianca from The Rape of Lucretia, Serena from Porgy and Bess, Mother from Amahl and the Night Visitors, Gwen from A Song for Coretta, Aida from the Broadway version of Aida, Adriana from Adriana Lecourver and Motormouth Maybelle from Hairspray. She is also a member of the Shreveport Opera Chorus and the Shreveport/Texarkana Regional Choral and New Dimensions Choral Society. Some of those chorus performances included Tosca, L’elisir d’amore, Faust, Madame Butterfly, Elijah, Carmina Buranna, Beethoven’s Mass in C Major, Messiah, and Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Golden Legend. She has also served as Musical Director in the following stage productions: A Song for Correta, Can I Get a Witness, Every Time I Feel the Spirit, The Amen Corner, and Young Gifted and Black. Some of Natorshau’s most recent conducting opportunities was Robert Wray’s Gospel Mass, John Rutter’s Requiem, and being the Convention Chorus Director for the National Association of Negro Musician’s 99th National Convention.

Ms. Davis participated in an intensive opera apprenticeship sponsored by Nancy Stokes-Milnes (Angels Sing Our Praise Inc.) during the Summer of 2006 in Manhattan, NY. The in-depth training program provided her with the opportunity to receive coaching from Baritone, Marc Rucker and Conductor Willie Anthony Waters. This experience and others have inspired Natorshau to strive for excellence while instructing her students. As a music educator, Ms. Davis’ goal is to introduce students to various genres of music, thus encouraging them to perform to the best of their abilities with a spirit of excellence. She wants students to capture her love for music and passion for the stage and apply it to their musical desires. Her motto is “…let’s make music.”

Visiting Theatre Director/Artist – King D. Godwin

King D. Godwin has served in higher education for over 40 years. He most recently served as the Dean of Arts and Sciences, Head of Visual and Performing Arts and as the first Endowed Professor of Theatre at Grambling State University. Prior to his affiliation with Grambling State University, Dr. Godwin served as an Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs/Associated Dean of the College (Voorhees College), Chair of Visual and Performing Arts (Voorhees College), Area Coordinator/Director of Mass Communication and Theatre Arts (University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff),Costumer and Theatre Instructor, (Bowie State University) and as an Elementary and Secondary Teacher of Fine Arts and Music,( Public schools of Florence and Jasper County School Districts of South Carolina) Dr. Godwin is a native of South Carolina. Dr. Godwin holds the Ed. D. in Educational Leadership and Administration, from Argosy University. the Ph. D. in Curriculum and Instruction with a cognate in Theatre Education from Virginia Tech University, Master of Education, in Secondary Education and Theatre (Bowie State University) and the B.A. in Dramatic and Speech Arts Education (South Carolina State University), and the Certificate in Public Policy and Executive Leadership in Higher Education (Nova Southeastern University). In addition, Dr. Godwin holds membership on the Registry board of examiners for the SACSCOC(SACS) National Accreditation Commission and the National Association of Schools of Theatre Accreditation Evaluators. Over the years He has been the recipient of several fellowships and honors. These include: Fulbright Scholar to Egypt, Salzburg Fellow, twice to Salzburg Austria, Kennedy Center Director Symposium Scholar, Junior Fellow to the Institute for Public Policy and Executive Leadership in Higher Education and Guest of the Antiguan Government to review and give consultation on Theatre Arts and Management. Dr. Godwin has published in several peer journals (Black Masks, Encore, C-Span, Mississippi Philological Association, NADSA Journal) and has directed over 1000 dramatic and musical productions. An avid grant writer, Dr. Godwin is a recipient of awards from Entergy of Louisiana, Synergy Forum Foundation of Arkansas, Title III Fellow” University Of Arkansas Pine Bluff, Title III Grant recipient “Establishing and Developing the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Film studies, (Grambling State University), Southeastern Arts Counsel, South Carolina Broadcasters Association Grant, and Partnership for a Better Pine Bluff After School Services Grant. Dr. Godwin has served as a reviewer for several textbooks and has written several compile theatre scripts. which he hopes to publish in the near future. In May 2018, Dr. Godwin retired from Grambling State University. Dr. Godwin is married to the Rev. Cheri L. Godwin, Pastor of the St. Matthews United Methodist Church in Kenner, LA., and serves as a Certified Lay Servant of the United Methodist Church. They are the parents of three adult children, twelve grandchildren, and two great-grandsons. Dr. Godwin holds membership in Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society, Theta Alpha Phi, and Delta Psi Omega Theatre Honor Fraternities.