Born in 1990, Ncube remembers going with her family to see shows at ASU Gammage as a child. Her first was The Phantom of the Opera. “I was in first or second grade,” she recalls. “And I was terrified.” Still, her family kept going — seeing everything from Les Misérables to Wicked.
They eventually sent her to theater camp at Phoenix Theatre, which made for another full-circle moment years later when Ncube landed her first professional acting gig in the 2012 Phoenix Theatre and Nearly Naked Theatre production of Spring Awakening.
That same year, Ncube graduated from Arizona State University with a B.A. in theatre. She’s also performed with Desert Stages Theatre and Childsplay. “Everything that I experienced in Arizona was a stepping stone to get me ready for what I’m doing today,” she says. "They're all little tiny things I put in my pocket."
Ncube rattled off a long list of local directors when we talked with her by phone in late August during a tour stop in Denver — Damon Dering, Robbie Harper, Michael Barnard, Toby Yatso, and Anthony Runfola. “All my directors in Phoenix taught me so much,” says Ncube.
She’s been on the road with The Book of Mormon for about a year and a half now, and credits times spent performing in the national tour of Childsplay’s Rock the Presidents with helping her build the stamina it takes to perform eight shows a week.
Ncube admits part of her attraction to the musical was its racy lyrics. Think four-letter words, beyond some of the usual suspects. The Book of Mormon was written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park fame, and Robert Lopez, whose other credits include songs for Avenue Q and the Disney film Frozen.
Her character is a young Ugandan woman named Nabulungi. “She’s the driving force of optimism in the show,” Ncube says. “All she wants to do is save her village from the general.” The musical is all about community, she says. But it tackles important political and social issues, using satire to make them more accessible.
“I think it’s going to be really surreal,” she says of performing at Gammage. “It’s such a milestone for me because I grew up watching people perform on that stage.” She adds that she’s especially excited about performing for the people who helped her get there.
Still, she’s got more than performing on her mind these days. Ncube is marrying her fiancé, Sean Mullaney, next month in downtown Phoenix. They met during callback auditions for Spring Awakening, and performed together in that show.
Ncube didn’t want to reveal where they’ll be tying the knot, but shared that they’ll be honeymooning in Bora Bora before she rejoins The Book of Mormon tour in Texas. In the meantime, she’s dreaming of simpler pleasures — like hitting Arcadia to indulge her passion for Postino wine and bruschetta.
The Book of Mormon plays at ASU Gammage from October 20 through November 8. For more information and tickets, visit the ASU Gammage website.