Sunday, April 18, 2021

Wakaa! the Musical’s Easter thrill lifts Nigerian theatre


Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
tiamin rice

A scintillating scene from Wakaa! the Musical performed all through the month of April at Terra Kulture Arena… in Lagos

Contemporary Nigerian theatre is at its peak as it aims to attain its full potential with the successful staging of Wakaa! the Musical. The hugely successful homegrown Musical Theatre broke records and barriers with completely sold-out shows in an amazing run all through the month of April. The crowd was huge, eclectic and from the young to the old, from businessmen and women to students, from Nigerians to foreigners, including Americans, Europeans, Chinese, Indians and South Africans, it was all spectacle. Tourists from Malaysia, South Africa and London, Abuja, Ibadan and Port Harcourt were there to see Wakaa the Musical.

It was an unbelievable moment in the history of Nigerian theatre. Many were turned back, and they wore long faces of anger and disappointment for missing out on a production that ran for a full month, as they still could not get tickets or seats in the newly opened Terra Kulture Arena theatre on Victoria Island, Lagos. Many wrote their names down with the hope that the producer would swing in one more show just to accommodate them. This has never been seen before when the desire and demand for a theatre production in Nigeria would far exceed the supply.

Wakaa the Musical is not new to such success and record-breaking feats, both locally and internationally. In July 2016, it became the first Nigerian Musical Theatre to be performed at London’s West End where it also had completely sold-out shows and a waitlist of eager theatre-goers hoping there would just be one more show for them to see.

It is, indeed, a new dawn for the Nigerian theatre industry and Bolanle Austen-Peters, the Producer and Director of Wakaa the Musical and her BAP Productions outfit and team are spearheading the renaissance or the resurgence of this hitherto neglected sector.

In her message to the teaming crowd in the New Terra Kulture Arena, she had informed of plans to take Saro the Musical to London in August and a new musical called Fela and the Kalakuta Queens, which will be showing in December in Lagos.

There is also a glimmer of hope for those who sorely missed the April shows that Wakaa the Musical just might return in the last quarter of this year for the sake of those who missed out and those who are yearning to see it again.

Wakaa the Musical is a strong satire of Nigeria’s politics and society and it explores the scheming, intrigues, betrayals and games people play in life to get ahead. The socio-cultural and modern entertainment production rejoices in the diverse, yet homogeneous people and culture of Nigeria, while examining current pressing issues of mass youth unemployment, lack of opportunities for social mobility, immigration and migration.

At the opening in March, guests included Prof. Pat Utomi, politician, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, investment banker, Mr. Atedo Peterside, Olu Jacob and Joke Silver, Steve Ayorinde, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Prof. Ademola Abass, Jahman Anikulapo, Teju Kareem, Kunle Afolayan among many others. They all came to witness one woman’s realisation of a dream that had long become a nightmare in the absence of structures for the performing arts. Now, it’s farewell to a major lack that has hindered a sector with vibrant performers and teeming talents.

And as Austen-Peters made clear on the night, corporate Nigeria will have no excuses to turn their noses against the performing arts anymore. More than ever before, she said, value would be added to the raw and wasting talents that are in abundance and waiting for opportunities to excel.

Wakaa the Musical was made possible by the support of Mixta Africa, MTN, PENCOM, Bank of Industry, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, AfricaMagic, FCMB, Amstel Malta, AXA MANSARD, Leadway Assurance Plc, AIRCOM, OLX, XTAMALIY, Sahara Group, Ebony LifeTV, Beats FM amongst other partners.

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