Kemari Bryant’s acting journey has been marked by significant achievements. As the first graduate of UNCG School of Theatre with a degree in Musical Theatre, he is now embarking on his inaugural national tour with the renowned Broadway production, The Book of Mormon.
“It’s been an incredible experience. I’ve had the opportunity to visit places I never thought I would. From an acting perspective, it’s truly amazing. When you perform in one location, you become accustomed to the specific kind of audience there. Touring is an entirely different experience. One week, you could be in Los Angeles, and the next, in Springfield, Missouri. People in different cities and regions perceive and respond to the show in various ways,” Bryant shares.
According to Bryant, this ability to gauge and adapt to an audience is a valuable skill he learned at UNCG’s School of Theatre. “We extensively explored this aspect during our training, along with numerous other skills that have brought me to where I am now. In the UNCG program, we often refer to these skills as our ‘toolbelt.’ Our classes, workshops, and performances equip us with all the tools we need. Now, as I perform in this show, I’m consistently drawing from that toolbelt. I often find myself reflecting on what Professor John Gulley taught me during my freshman year and how I can apply it now.”
Bryant completed his degree in December 2021 with plans to move to New York by the following summer. However, prior to that, he signed with an agent and began auditioning and submitting self-tapes. His final callback for The Book of Mormon occurred in May 2022, and just a few weeks after relocating to the city, he received the news.
“While I was working in coffee shops, reconnecting with UNCG alumni in New York, and familiarizing myself with the city, I received an email from my agent informing me that I had secured the tour,” Bryant recounts.
The Book of Mormon won nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical, in 2011. With a book, music, and lyrics by Robert Lopez, Matt Stone, and Trey Parker, the show follows the journey of two young missionaries sent to Uganda in an attempt to convert the locals to the Mormon religion. The production, co-directed by Casey Nicholaw and Parker, features choreography by Nicholaw.
“This show is an extraordinary blend of uproarious humor, heartfelt moments, and jaw-dropping surprises,” says Bryant. “Comedic musicals are a rarity on Broadway these days, but The Book of Mormon delivers non-stop laughter. It incorporates references to other shows, and the jokes just keep coming. The production is also filled with music and dance, reminiscent of the Golden Age of musicals – it’s a true spectacle.”
Bryant acknowledges that the show has made him recognize the importance of another skill he developed during his time at UNCG.
“Let go of the notion of perfection and allow yourself to be a little messy. There is so much to gain from authenticity and boldness. Dare to make choices that may seem unconventional or outside your comfort zone. Experiment. Assistant Professor of Musical Theatre, Erin Speer, always encouraged us to make bold choices – as long as they were honest and true to ourselves. People truly want to see you shine; that’s why they cast you, right? Bring your unique essence to your role.”
While Bryant is bringing his authentic self to his role, the tour will bring him back to his alma mater. The Book of Mormon is set to open at the Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts on February 21st.
Bryant eagerly anticipates his return. “UNCG provided me with a nurturing environment to explore my various talents and interests. It allowed me the space to collaborate and learn from mentors who have always supported me. They were indispensable in shaping me into both the actor and the person I am today.”
The Book of Mormon will be showcased at the Tanger Center until February 26th.
Story by Terri W. Relos
The Book of Mormon photo by Julieta Cervantes
Headshot provided by Kemari Bryant