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Loyola University New Orleans presents ‘God Help Them if We Wake Up,’ a new play by Ann Mahoney and starring Nadine Marissa, both of “The Walking Dead”

By Loyola University on Thu, 10/26/2023 - 11:40

The Department of Theater Arts and Dance at Loyola University is pleased to present ‘God Help Them if We Wake Up,’ a powerful feminist drama from playwrights Ann Mahoney and Gillian Shelly, Nov. 9-18 at Marquette Theatre.

Nadine Marissa, a film and television actress best known for her role as Nabila on AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and her work on ‘Better Call Saul’ and ‘Baskets,’ stars as Hannah Green, a woman going through a midlife crisis who leaves her whole life behind in search of a better world, and inadvertently awakens an army of women and sparks a revolution.

“I recently found myself watching fundamental human rights taking a huge step backward in this land of the free, home of the brave,” said Mahoney, an actress and playwright, and a theatre professor at Loyola. “I knew I didn’t have the political prowess to make a statement that would matter, so I returned to my roots in the theatre and wrote this epic play – featuring 25 women, original music, choreography, and much magic and mayhem.”  

Shelly, a mainstay of the Washington, D.C., theatre scene, and Mahoney procured the funding to produce the play from the annual Carol Sutton/Sherri Marina Memorial Grant, which supports new plays featuring roles for Black leading actors – particularly Black women – and a New Orleans Theater Association Grant. Marina, who appeared in the hit 2017 movie Girls Trip, as well as several stage productions, was a faculty member at Loyola when she died in 2020.  

“This is a full circle moment,” said Mahoney, whose most notable roles include Olivia on ‘The Walking Dead’ and Gladys Presley on ‘Sun Records.’ “Sherri Marina was a dear friend and colleague. To be able to utilize a grant named after her – to perform a new play, with several leading roles for women of color, at Loyola University – feels appropriate and deeply spiritual.”  

Marissa, a classically trained actress who has appeared at venues including Stage West Theatre, African American Repertory Theater and Alley Theatre, said she relates to her character, Hannah, as both are going through big shifts in their lives. 

“We are both working through a new trajectory and figuring out how to take back control after losing what we’ve known,” she said. “With ‘The Walking Dead’ ending, I needed something to ground me and make me feel at home again. And just like that, Hannah came and said, ‘Come on home for a bit.’ I know this play has to happen, and I have to be a part of it.”  

Students in Loyola’s Theatre Arts and Dance program perform the other leading and supporting roles in the production. Kai Knight serves as the choreographer, with Flo Presti as the music director. John A. Mahoney and Ann Mahoney wrote the music and lyrics.

The play will run Nov. 9-12 and Nov. 15-18 in Marquette Theatre at Loyola. All performances will take place at 7:30 p.m., with the exception of Nov. 12, which will be a matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets will cost $20 for adults, $15 for senior citizens and Loyola faculty and staff, and $8 for students. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit