A sneak preview of the Lagos Broadway play, Saro the Musical, draws applause from experts, AKEEM LASISI writes.
With stories spilling into more stories and drama into music, the play unfolded in a breath-taking speed. Apart from the fact that being a musical drama means it has something to offer everyone, the humour that punctuated the plot made laughter ripple through the hall as the actors gave a good account of themselves.
It became so engaging that by the time the sneak preview was over, the select audience generally felt they had been treated to a complete spectacle. But the feeling sounded like the beginning of another drama when the producers announced that all they had seen were just four of the 14 scenes that make Saro the Musical. It was clear to those who saw the official unveiling of the show that theatre lovers are in for a very big treat.
In the audience were leading dramatists, including Prof. Ahmed Yerima; veteran actress, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett; veteran journalist and producer, Ben Tomoloju; actress and now Managing Director of Malete Film Village, Joke Silva; and director and lecturer at the University of Ibadan, Dr. Tunde Awosanmi.
The event held at Terra Kulture, whose founder, Bolanle Austen-Peters, is the executive producer of the play.
It was intended to acquaint potential sponsors with the progress made by the cast and crew. The event attracted some people from the political and business circles too. Among such were Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Mr. Disun Holloway; Founder of the Omoba Yemisi Shyllon Art Foundation, Prince Yemisi Shyllon; art patron and chairman of the Arts and Business Foundation, Mrs. Myma Belo-Osagie; and popular TV personality and CEO of EbonyTV, Mo Abudu.
While the Consul-General of the French Embassy, Francoise Sastourne, also rose to be counted, Tuface Idibia led other entertainment/TV personalities such as Kate Henshaw, Chris Ihindero, Steve Onu (Yaw) and Wana Udobong.
Primarily, the story of a group of young men seeking fortune in Lagos, Saro the Musical, which tells the story of the city in drama and music, opens with a musical performance laced with piercing chant.
Then follows the story of love going on suspension when a young man announces to his emotional girlfriend that he has to be on a journey of discovery to the city. It is the journey of the young chaps, who run into different kinds of experiences, that the directors – Kenneth Uphopho (drama); Ayo Ajayi (music); Makinde Adeniran (executive director) and Gbenga Yussuf (dance) – exploit to take the audience to various locations and times in Lagos.
The stakeholders commended the initiative and expressed support for Austen-Peters and the entire project, to which ZMirage’s Alhaji Teju Kareem is providing technical support.
Yerima noted that the play was coming at a time the country was clearly in need of cultural renaissance. He was also happy that many youths were being engaged. While Holloway hailed Saro the Musical as fulfilling a Broadway idea, Lycett said what she saw was fantastic.
She said, “I am an actor and I love to act. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough of theatre in Nigeria. I wish we could have more of it. This is an artistic splendour. We taught the world how to dance, but some people took it from us. Now, with Saro, we are taking it back so that those who stole it will see that we taught the world to dance.
Bello-Osagie and Abudu also saluted Austen-Peters and her team, just as Ihidereo noted that the opening music kept ringing in his ears long after the show had ended.
One of the areas that the crew must tighten is the length of the play. They need to balance the low sides with positive characters of Lagos and to probably infuse more dances that are so original that the experience the audience would have will be distinct from what an Umoja or Fela on Broadway presents.
Austen-Peters assured all that the play is larger than what they had ever seen. She noted that it is a cost-intensive project but said, “We are not afraid to embark on a project of this scale because we have been through it all in the past seven years. We have encountered lot of challenges in running the Theatre@ Terra, but we have also mastered how to surmount the challenges; so we understand the way to handle a project of this magnitude.”