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In the News
Here presented in its world premiere and masterfully directed by Diane Paulus, it tells the story of an African-American actor, tired of pounding the pavement in New York, who volunteers to go to Uganda to help build a village school just outside the capital city of Kampala.
It's hard to imagine a more achingly personal musical than “Witness Uganda.” And that's what helps to make this world premiere at American Repertory Theater so involving – and, in many ways, so remarkable.
Few of us would think of turning one of our life experiences into a musical or have the vision and talent to pull it off. But the young Griffin Matthews has done so with the help of co-creator Matt Gould.
Perhaps because Gould and Matthews don’t play up the pathos — they’re just telling a true story, honestly and artfully — it’s all the more overwhelming when it catches you unawares.
It is a stirring, humorous and musically brilliant, yet somehow relaxed, narrative of one frustrated young man's journey of personal discovery and understanding.
Diane Paulus, who is directing American Repertory Theater’s production of “Witness Uganda,” says its music “didn’t sound like anything I had heard before.”
Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews developed the musical “Witness Uganda” to tell the story of the founding of UgandaProject and inspire others to help.
“I want to encourage people to come to this,” says Paulus.“It asks hard questions, it’s a piece of tremendous heart, and it is actually really funny.” And to reiterate, with Paulus the audience is in good hands. In Gould’s words, “There is a reason why she is the goddess of the American musical theater.”
MetroWest Daily: At the A.R.T. in Cambridge, "Witness Uganda" asks pivotal question (January 25, 2014)
When Griffin Matthews flew off to Uganda in 2005, he had no idea he'd return with a sense of purpose, a love life and a musical.
For Paulus, the ART’s artistic director, 2013 was a year of snowballing commercial success. In June, she won her first Tony Award as a director, for “Pippin,” which transferred to Broadway from the ART last spring, recouped its $8.5 million capitalization in December, and continues its run. It is Paulus’s third Broadway show, and her third to win the Tony for best revival of a musical.