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Arts Club Theatre

By Ann Mortifee

Director Bill Millerd

Dates 12-18 March 2006 Venue Arts Club Theatre Reviewer Ed Farolan

Ann Mortifee

Bill Millerd remembers Ann Mortifee as one of the four cast members of Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris at the old Seymour stage in 1972. “She was a young woman who captured the hearts of Vancouverites with her amazing vocal range and powerful emotional tone…Ann was that rarity in the 1970s and 80s –a Canadian star.”

Ann Mortifee was born in Zululand, South Africa and came to Canada as a young child. She began singing as a teenager with Josh White at a local coffeehouse, and later worked with the Royal Winnipeg ballet with her ballet version of George Ryga’s play, The Ecstasy of Rita Joe.

This 90-minute no intermission musical is about her return to Zululand where, in a dream, she is told by a Sangoma (Zulu healer and spiritual medium) to return to Zululand. There she meets with Credo Mutwa, the most revered spiritual leader of the Zulu nation, keeper of the ancient wisdoms of the traditions of the African continent. Her meeting with the Sangoma has inspired her to write this musical, the proceeds of which will go to the different AIDS projects in Africa.

The musical was intended to be a one-woman show, but when she met Jenni Burke in Toronto, she decided to incorporate the character of the Sangoma for Burke.

With Bill Millerd’s direction and set design by Ted Roberts, the production exhuded the magic realism reminiscent in Gabriel Marquez’s Cien años de soledad. The duets by Mortifee and Burke were perfectly timed, and the music under the direction of Ed Henderson was well synchronized.

Ann Mortifee received the Order of Canada in 1992 for her outstanding contribution to the healing and performing arts in Canada. For more information on Ann’s accomplishments, click on her website.

© 2006 Ed Farolan