It’s been in development for the past 10 years -- a musical sensation that’s already benefitted from multiple workshops, performances and a Dora Award nomination.
Still, Nicole Brooks wants her creation, Obeah Opera, to be the best piece of musical theatre it can possibly be. For that to happen, she needs a large, diverse, all-female cast who dance and sing entirely a cappella.
“When I first presented the idea, I was told, ‘If it’s more than five people, we can’t do it,’ ” Nicole recalls, “I was asked to tone down the idea because Canada doesn’t do large-scale musical theatre productions. I wouldn’t.”
Thanks to supporters of the NAC’s National Creation Fund, Nicole didn’t have to. Obeah Opera is one of the latest projects to receive an investment from the Fund, which helps Canadian artists create ambitious new work.
“What we’re trying to do with the Fund is to let artists ask themselves: ‘What if that thing we really wanted to do was actually possible?’ ” says Heather Moore, the Fund’s Artistic Producer.
In Obeah Opera’s case, the Fund’s investment will support the dramaturgy and a workshop to refine the script and score; extensive workshops with the choreographer and cast; and a technical residency and workshop to incorporate the new material into the final production.
Ultimately, Nicole’s vision will be realized and audiences will be treated to a hand-clapping, foot-stomping, spirit-lifting retelling of the legendary Salem witch trials from the fascinating perspective of Caribbean slave women who also lived in the town.
Obeah Opera will be part of Toronto’s Luminato Festival in June.