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'Nativity: A Life Story' at Riverside Church One night only, Dec. 2

LINDA ARMSTRONG Special to the AmNews | 11/30/2011, 4:57 p.m.
'Nativity: A Life Story' at Riverside Church One night only, Dec. 2

You know that when something important needs to get done but obstacles arise, we adopt the attitude that we will not give up; we will find a way. This is exactly what happened to Clarissa Sinceno, co-producer of "Nativity: A Life Story," which will be mounted for a one-time-only performance on Friday, Dec. 2 at the Riverside Church, at 490 Riverside Dr. Sinceno is presenting the show in memory of its late co-creator James Stovall.

Sinceno recently spoke with the AmNews about this production and her determination to make it happen. She said she had been friends with Stovall for years. In 2002, he gave her a box that she put on her shelf and never looked into. However, after he passed away last year, she decided to look and see what he had given her.

To her surprise and amazement, Stovall had entrusted her with all the materials necessary to mount "Nativity: A Life Story," a musical about the birth of Jesus Christ that he had co-written with actress Hattie Winston. It is an African-American Christmas-themed musical based on the birth of Jesus, inspired by Langston Hughes' "Black Nativity." Sinceno knew that it had to be her mission to get the musical mounted this year in honor of her friend.

"I had so much information-contact people, numbers and other key things-on my computer, and it was stolen. I wasn't sure how to reach out to people, and then my co-producer, Saint Christopher Wilkerson, reminded me to look back into the history on my cell phone and see the numbers of some of the key people I had already started to speak with about mounting this production. In doing that, I was able to continue to get the ball rolling," Sinceno recalled.

"Putting this show together was a lot of hard work. I don't know how James did it year after year and also managed to star in it, too. But I guess that's what is possible when something is your baby and your passion. It was important to James to tell this story the way that he and Hattie created it, to share the message with people in our communities. It's also important to me," the co-producer explained.

The musical is a one-time event that will leave you feeling inspired for the holiday season. It will feature an amazing all-star cast, including Tony Award winner Lillias White, renowned actress and singer Ebony Jo-Ann, Alyson Williams, Priscilla Baskerville, Michele Sorel, Damon Horton, Tyrone Aiken, Dwayne Grayman and acting veteran Lou Myers. It will also feature the Ebony Ecumenical Ensemble (Bettye F. Forbes, founder and director); Harlem Boys & Girls Alumni Choir; Brooklyn School of the Arts Performing Choir (Avid Williams, director); and Grace Baptist Church Children's Choir of Mount Vernon (Tyrone Patrick, director).

Come down to Riverside Church for the 8 p.m. show to get your blessing and see why, no matter what obstacles came her way, Sinceno made this glorious event take place.

In addition to the musical, Stovall will be honored, along with a few other special people.

"Nativity: A Life Story" is presented by CSong Inc. Group rates are $20, general admission is $25 and VIP tickets are $50. For tickets and more information, go to www.nativityalifestory.com.