By Anote Ajeluorou
ALTHOUGH practitioners are breaking their backs to get theatre back as a respectable cultural diet for all, part of the strategy is to employ every rule in the book to achieve results. And as Broadway-style Musical Theatre, Saro 2, hits the stage again this month from December 23 – 26 at Shell Hall, MUSON Centre, Lagos, movie and TV stars will equally have a taste of the dramatic action. This is one strategy Executive Producer, Mrs. Bolanle Austin-Peters is bringing to the table.
As she put it, “We’re trying to attract movie and TV people to the theatre. There’s a mileage they bring into theatre. The tide is changing; people are noticing; they are seeing that theatre is a source of entertainment, especially corporate bodies”.
Bombo Manuel and Gideon Okeke (both on TV drama, Tinsel) are two movie and TV stars that will be part of Saro 2 when curtains open on December 23. Manuel is already upbeat about the potentials of Saro 2, and calls it a game-changer in the African conception of Musical Theatre. He stated, “This is my first season with Saro the Musical. I’ve read the script, and I think it promises incredible spectacle. It’s already amazing in rehearsals. I think this Saro 2 is going to begin asking questions of the kind of things that come out of South Africa; it’s certainly going to challenge them – Ipitombi and Umoja. Saro 2 is global standard.
“It’s shocking we’ve got so many incredible talent we’ve not given a chance. It’s a credit to madam Austin-Peters. Now we’re beginning to lift the bushel for our light to shine and be seen by others.
“Saro catches you from the first sound and it doesn’t let you go to the end. The story is compelling, of four young men on a mission of self-discovery. It speaks to the youth of this country and beyond”.
Okeke finds it a compliment to be called upon to play a part in Saro 2 as one of the ambitious four young men on a musical journey of self-discovery. He noted, “It’s a compliment to be called upon to do this from what I’m used to doing. It brings me close to what I’ve always feared, singing in public. I’ve always sung in my closet. This is my second musical, and I’m thrilled and excited to be part of it”.
For Okeke and other movie stars, taking part in a theatre production is a labour of love, as there wasn’t as much money in it as in movies. “It’s a labour of love,” Okeke stated. “There’s not so much you can make from theatre in Nigeria. We’re trying to grow theatre culture here. We want people to have the shock effect. Putting me on poster is business”, a fact Austin-Peters agrees to.
For lead male, Patrick Diabuah, who was also lead last year, and has featured in another musical, Kakadu, “It’s a privilege being part of Saro the Musical. It’s a great teamwork, and a great experience. It’s been very good experience; it’s been a learning curve and also demanding”.
Also for female lead, Adesua Etomi, “It was absolutely amazing. Saro the Musical captures your heart. It was tasking and fulfilling”.
Acceptance is also coming the way of Saro the Musical 2, as Access Bank Plc, AfricaMagic and Etisalat have lined up to support the musical, just as other companies are waiting in the wings to also support it.