I’m hoping that I will have the words to properly articulate how I feel about Wakaa The Musical. It’s been almost twenty-four hours and I’m still buzzing.
Jeez, people are lucky I didn’t have my Naija passport with me yesterday or I’d have just been walking around slapping people upandan with it! It surpassed my wildest expectations and I was so proud to be Nigerian! Bolanle Austen-Peters brought it!
The place was packed!!! There was a buzz of anticipation and excitement long before we’d taken our seats. This is where the priding started. Just seeing people who would have had to come straight from work, people who would have had to arrange childcare, people who should be tired…for them to turn up so buzzed, so ready…it was awesome sauce!
The hall was only half full when I took my seat at 7pm. I started to get worried. I thought they said this showing had sold out? Will the cast have to come out to perform to an empty hall? But I needn’t have worried. It was a little bit of African man time, and when I looked up again after the very first number, the hall was full.
The crowd clamouring to congratulate the producer, Bolanle Austen-Peters after the show.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I sat down in that theatre. Nollywood set to music? A musical like Mamma Mia but given a Naija twist? I believe “apprehensive” is the right word in these circumstances.
It was all these things and more. Following a few friends as they graduate and set out into the wide world, Wakaa the Musical tells a story that every Nigerian is familiar with.
Tosan is the earnest, naive political aspirant who believes he can make a difference.
Kike is the quintessential Lagos babe who has no ambition other than to go shopping in New York and spend her life buying pretty dresses.
Rex!!!! Rex is my gee of laive! Packager extraordinaire! He says he is a dancer with every intention of opening a dance school in the UK. He is a social climber and uses his charms…to enter one chance in London Town! LOL! He became one akata babe’s personal Sango! 😀
Ngozi – some next chick. I don’t even know what her parole is, other than to be doing amebo upandan the whole place.
Without hesitation I can tell you that Chief Otunba Sagay, played by the brilliant Bimbo Manuel was the standout performer for me.
He embodied that filthy politician that we all know – personable but apathetic to the suffering of the masses, stomach infrastructure loading. And yet, you can’t bring yourself to hate him.
He gave us Olamide/Baddosneh realness, he took us to the streets, and he did it in the most luxurious agbadas and beads. Baba alaiye of life, he was yum!
His sidekick, Iyalode/Mama Ke played by Mawuyon Ogun is also flawless in her role. I think she was a Yoruba parody our Dame Patience, but meeehn! She’s good!
Prof Jojoba! Prof, prof!!! Played by Ozzy Agu, was the Patrick Obahiagbon of the political scene. He crossed carpet so many times, I was dizzy with his antics, but omo, I loved him piecesly!
Krinkum krankum of the highest order! Prof Jojoba nearly broke our head with English but we loved him just like that!
Pros and Cons
There is almost nothing I dislike about this musical. It is finished to a high standard and it will resonate with any and every Nigerian, no matter how far and how long they’ve been away from home.
Some of the songs inserted to whip the crowd into a frenzy certainly did the trick but I wonder if they will stand the test of time. If Wakaa the Musical were to go on tour next year, will Duro by TeknoMiles still hold us enthralled? Will Amorawa by Wande Coal and Burna Boy still have the audience in the aisles dancing away? Or will the play date rather quickly?
If there is a criticism, that was it. Everything else is praise, and praise indeed!
I was so glad to see a majority black audience. This pleased me so. I was so glad that the approval of the white audience wasn’t actively sought either. We did not pander, neither did we sit like robots in our seats. We enjoyed a Nigerian musical the only way Nigerians could – with fervour and feedback.
I was BLOWN AWAY with the infusion of Nigerian tradition and culture. There was a wedding enacted between Cletus and Ngozi. It was a beautiful thing to see the ways of my people brought to life on the stage. Sure, the lines were blurred between Bini, Yoruba and Uyo, but I’ll take it: it was a capsule of how we celebrate in Nigeria. It was amazeballs.
I could go on and on, but all that is left to say is thank you. Thank you to the cast, to Bolanle Austen-Peters, to the crew, to London’s West End, to DJ Abass – thank you.
What a triumph of tradition and excellence!
All pictures courtesy Jermaine Sanwoolu for Wakaa The Musical
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