When UNCC professor Andrew Hartley writes a book, the stars align – to read it aloud.
Latest case: Noma Dumezweni, star of the London stage version of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” reads the audio version of Hartley’s Steeplejack. That fantasy mystery features a brave young female protagonist and is set an in imaginary world inspired by 19th-century South Africa – the country Dumezweni’s parents fled to escape apartheid. (They went first to Swaziland, where Dumezweni was born, then to England.)
The book came out in June 2016 through Tor Teen; Audible released the audiobook this week. “Steeplejack” is the first in a series of three young adult fantasy novels; the second is due next year.
The British know Dumezweni as the 2006 Olivier-winner (their Tony) for “A Raisin in the Sun.” You may know her – well, you wouldn’t, really. She’s hardly ever in films or American TV. But she created a stir as Hermione Granger in “Child,” which continues the Potter mythology of J.K. Rowling 19 years after the end of “Deathly Hallows.” (A Broadway version has been discussed.)
Hartley, UNCC’s Robinson Distinguished Professor of Theatre, met Dumezweni when she was working for the Royal Shakespeare Company six years ago. He’s no stranger to celebrity audiobooks: In 2012, Alan Cumming (Broadway’s “Cabaret”) narrated the audio version of Macbeth, a novelization of Shakespeare’s tragedy written with David Hewson. Two years later, Richard Armitage (Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit”) narrated the Hartley/Hewson novelization of Hamlet, named Audible’s Best Book of 2014.