Posts Tagged ‘zahra newman

07
Aug
18

The Book of Mormon on sale today!

 

The Book of Mormon, Broadway’s smash hit musical written by Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Robert Lopez, is coming to Brisbane and Adelaide and tickets are now on sale!

 

The Tony®, Olivier®, Grammy® and Helpmann® award-winning show will begin performances at
QPAC’s Lyric Theatre on 16 March 2019 for a limited season, before it transfers to the Festival
Theatre, Adelaide from 27 June 2019. BOOKINGS: HERE

 

The Australian production of The Book of Mormon has notched up 615 performances since
opening at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre on 17 January 2017 for a one year run, then moving to
the Sydney Lyric Theatre from 27 February 2018, with every performance selling out.
Winner of nine Tony Awards® including Best Musical, the Grammy® for Best Musical Theatre album
and four Olivier Awards® including Best New Musical, The Book of Mormon set a record for the
highest grossing on-sale of any musical theatre production in Sydney’s history with more than
45,000 tickets sold by the end of the first day of public sales, and broke the house record for the
highest selling on sale period of any production in the Princess Theatre’s 159-year history in
Melbourne.

 

At the 2017 Helpmann Awards, The Book of Mormon was crowned winner of the coveted Best
Musical award, while Trey Parker and Casey Nicholaw were awarded Best Direction of a Musical.
Since making its world premiere in March 2011 at New York’s Eugene O’Neill Theatre, The Book of
Mormon has played more than 380 consecutive weeks there, at more than 100% capacity
(standing room adds additional capacity), and has broken the house record more than 50 times.
Its successive North American touring companies have played to more than 100% capacity for a
combined total of 3,768 performances and broken 104 house records at 57 theatres.
The London production opened in February 2013, winning four Olivier Awards®, including Best
New Musical.

 

The Book of Mormon smashed box office records for the highest single day of sales in West End history and has sold out every single one of its 2,268 performances thus far in London’s West End.

 

Book, Music and Lyrics are by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. Co-directed by Trey
Parker and Casey Nicholaw, The Book of Mormon has choreography by Casey Nicholaw, set
design by Scott Pask, costume design by Ann Roth, lighting design by Brian MacDevitt, sound
design by Brian Ronan, orchestrations by Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus, and music
supervision and vocal arrangements by Stephen Oremus.

 

 

 

The Australian cast stars Ryan Bondy (above), A.J. Holmes, Bert Labonte and Zahra Newman.

 

The Book of Mormon is produced in Australia by Anne Garefino, Scott Rudin, Important Musicals
and John Frost.

 

 

 

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03
Mar
14

The Mountaintop

 

The Mountaintop

Queensland Theatre Company

QPAC Playhouse

February 22 – March 16 2014

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 

 

The baton passes on.

 

A rainy April night in Memphis, 1968 – and Dr Martin Luther King Jr doesn’t know it, but it will be his last night on earth. Wearied but resolute after his years-long march at the head of the Civil Rights Movement, the preacher checks into room 306 at the modest Lorraine Motel.

 

Before the sun sets again, he will be shot and killed. 

 

Candy Bowers and Pacharo Mzembe. The Mountaintop. Image by Rob Maccoll

 

I saw MTC’s production of Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop last year and was struck by the magic created by the actors in that production, Bert LaBonte and Zahra Newman, who had been paired after appearing on stage together a few times already. There I saw the show at the end of the season and here I saw opening night of QTC’s production, directed by the company’s Associate Director, Todd MacDonald, starring a new pair, Pacharo Mzembe and Candy Bowers. By the end of the season these two are going to be magnificent; in fact from about 15 minutes in they are pretty damn good! However, it took that long for Mzembe to look really comfortable as Dr Martin Luther King Jr, the man; the sinner. When Camae, the flirtatious maid (another self-proclaimed sinner), stepped into King’s shoes, the shift in energy and focus from Bowers was also noticeable, and once both performers settled and relaxed, resuming the play between them that comes straight outta’ the rehearsal room, the show really started and the opening night audience lapped it up.

 

For me, the writing is less convincing than the end result, in this case, of some lovely gentle direction and two intuitive, eventually very natural performances, which make us catch our breath more than once, and sit up straighter and taller at the challenge to pass the baton on. The final minutes are really something. Hall’s play about Martin Luther King Jr’s (imagined) last night on earth impressed the Brits and divided American critics, some of whom, like Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar haters, probably preferred to remember the martyr, not the man.

 

Candy Bowers and Pacharo Mzembe. The Mountaintop. Image by Rob Maccoll

 

But it’s with the man we sympathise, though not completely, since he’s a chain-smoking womaniser with stinky feet! It’s the real (imagined) view of a weary man at his most vulnerable, confronted by a sassy motel maid that makes the piece interesting, as well as the casual and comedic repartee between a philanderer and a woman who is not all she seems. Camae cleverly represents a fierce, Oprahfied black woman, and at the same time, the sadder image of the oppressed; it’s a wishful feminism. I can’t give away how Camae has reached her enlightened state, but as someone who believes that there have always been strong women around, whether they’ve been noted or not, I’m all for this aspect of Hall’s fiction. Indeed, it’s what makes the play possible.

 

No spoilers here, but some of Camae’s tricks don’t quite work, and the fault may be in the writing more than in the production elements (when this play grows up it will be a movie). It’s easy enough to skip past these effects and appreciate the magic for what it is – a reminder that, as much as we like to think it so, we don’t know all there is to know.

 

Candy Bowers. The Mountaintop. Image by Rob Maccoll

 

The highlight of this production is the delivery upstage, of Camae’s “The baton passes on” speech/rap/song/performance art piece by Bowers, supported by flickering images – a brilliant historical montage by optikal bloc – thrown across the motel windows and walls, not unlike Melbourne’s version of the play but with greater colour and immediate impact, paired as it is with Kieran Swann’s unassuming set, which moves and opens wide just as our hearts do. Layered within and around composition by Busty Beatz, Ben Hughes’ lighting and Tony Brumpton’s sound add to the extraordinary effect of a brilliantly conceived full-blown biblical ghetto sequence.

 

Pacharo Mzembe. The Mountaintop. Image by Rob Maccoll

 

The most startling difference here is that Bowers makes the list of names and historical events mean something even more than they did already. She commands the space, driving the energy and bringing the message home to multiple generations, to those who remember events, and those who should never have to see history repeat itself. Mzembe’s final address is poignant and despite the playwright’s determination to drive the point home once again before we go home, he is able to keep it real rather than maddening, genuinely challenging us to keep changing the world.

 

 

The Mountaintop gives its performers the chance to breathe, flex their muscles and fly. This is truly inspirational theatre; a call to action, and your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to pick up the baton and pass it on.

 

 




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