To say that Alexandra Ncube is living the dream would be an understatement of epic proportions, comparable to making a statement such as “Phantom of the Opera is having a nice little run on Broadway.”
Ncube (pronounced Noo-beh). will burst into San Francisco on Wednesday, April 15th, a little more than a year after starting a plumb job on the national tour of “The Book of Mormon,” the Broadway show which won nine Tony awards in 2011 and still one of the hottest tickets in New York. Back in late 2012, the month-long run at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco sold out in 90 minutes.
The current run, which will hang around the City through June 27th, is a thrill for Ncube, a 2012 graduate of Arizona State University, the school in the state where she was also raised. Her training started in a children’s theater as a youth, through college with a degree in theater, and then a gig after college as a wedding singer. These various experiences as a performer from a very young age have trained her well, not only for the excitement and energy of a national tour, but also the grind.
“You know, I love it, I really do. It’s a fun game to try to keep it fresh and a matter of finding different moments,” said Ncube, who plays the head chief’s daughter Nabulungi. “Staying grounded comes with the challenge, and I kind of try to make it a game to keep optimistic, instead of feeling it’s too hard.
“I can’t say I never get tired, and I don’t want to think about that. I am always thinking about how I can make it the best I can.”
Aside from hearing a few songs from the soundtrack, Ncube didn’t really know much about the show. But all she really needed to know is that its creators, including Robert Lopez (Avenue Q), Trey Parker and Matt Stone (South Park), certainly have a reputation not just for pushing the envelope, but ramming a stack of envelopes with their unique version of searing satire. And in this show, Mormonism is the target, in addition to organized religion in general.
The show follows Mormon missionaries Elder Price and Elder Cunningham as they find themselves spreading the message of the Latter Day Saints in Uganda. Other issues are far more important to the Ugandans, such as war, famine and AIDS. Yet to the naïve and sunny missionaries, these are minor bumps in their ultimate mission.
Parker and Stone are certainly known for their hard-hitting satirizations of many social conventions. Whether it is their bread and butter Comedy Central show “South Park,” or taking on terrorism in the puppet comedy “Team America: World Police,” Parker and Stone spare no one in their comedy. Add in the musical talents of Lopez, and “The Book of Mormon” goes right along with skewering society at large, and organized religion specifically.
Despite the racy elements of the show, Ncube has yet to meet anyone who has been offended to the point of leaving early. Quite the opposite, she states.
“It’s rare that people won’t be on board by the end of the show,” said Ncube. “It’s funny to watch the first few rows early in a show on a Saturday or Sunday matinee, when crowds are a bit more reserved, and they are a little bit shocked. But everyone has loved it in the end.”
For now, Ncube is relishing every moment, every standing ovation, and every laugh she has experienced on tour. She is thrilled to be performing in San Francisco, which will allow plenty of family and friends to take a short flight from Arizona to see her perform. These moments are magical, and her preparation from youth through college has made her feel she is exactly where she needs to be.
“Everything I did, I’ve done exactly as it should have happened,” said Ncube. “I did a national tour with a small local youth theatre and learned how to travel closely with people, also working together with people in a band. All these experiences helped me grow so much as an individual and as a woman.
“Everything was a learning experience and a stepping stone to prepare me for this. It’s been scary and terrifying to be out there but I felt a little more prepared because of these experiences.”
WHAT TO KNOW IF YOU GO
SHNSF presents “The Book of Mormon”
Book, music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone
Through June 27th
The Orpheum Theatre
1192 Market St., San Francisco, CA
Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes with a 15-minute intermission
Tickets range from $60 – $210
For tickets, call (888) 746-1799 or visit www.shnsf.com