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.)
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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.