The ambitious theatrical SARO premiered in Lagos Friday October 25 with aplomb typical of a grand Broadway-style showpiece.
It’s been long since a show of such scale, especially in the musical genre, was staged anywhere in Nigeria and the cast and crew involved in this production left no stone unturned to make it a show to remember.
The impressive multi-dimensional stage of the Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island gave room for the actors to be expressive in their elaborate costumes, supported by quality lighting and sound output as envisaged by the producers led by Mrs Bolanle Austen-Peters -- MD of Terra Kulture Art Centre, Lagos.
Over 2000 pupils turned out on the opening night to watch the actors thrill them with choreographed dance steps to the fusion of jazz, afro-beat, hip-hop, highlife, juju, apala, and other contemporary Nigerian music genres.
The production that ran for three nights drew an impressive turn out including dignitaries like the former governor of Lagos State, Senator Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the state’s Commissioner for Tourism, Hon Disun Holloway, Nobel laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka. Others were the actor-couple Olu Jacobs and Joke Silva, as well popular actress, Dakore Egbuson-Akande.
Other dignitaries who graced the occasion were actress Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, the poet and activist, Odia Ofeimun, the dramatist, culture journalist, Ben Tomoloju, the famed filmmakers, Tunde Kelani and Femi Odugbemi; architect and designer of the Freedom Park and the Kalakuta Museum, Theo Lawson; banker, Kayode Aderinokun, comedian Teju Babyface, on-air-personality Steve Onuh aka Yaw, and others.
“It was way above my expectations,” said Faderarah Olatunde, a student of Pine Field College. “I actually thought I was going to watch a black and white history of Nigeria that would be boring, but I was actually fascinated by what they did.”
For Jeddidah Umosen, a pupil of Greenspring School, it was also a fascinating experience. “ SARO was a good play; it combined the past and contemporary African music by different dynamic Nigerian artistes. It was different and I enjoyed it,” she said.
But not only the young ones were impressed by the show. Veteran actor and actress Olu Jacobs and Joke Silva said the show was a good step in the right direction for theatre development in Nigeria.
Mrs. Oluwatoyin Edun was left feeling nostalgic by the entire effort. “Watching SARO has brought the whole Lagos thing back to me. Lagos is actually a land filled with opportunities where people actually come, find their dreams and keep them. I think it’s so amazing having a Nigerian do this for us; we’ve seen Fela on Broadway, Lyla King On Broadway but SARO (in Nigerian Broadway), happens to be a classic one,” she said.
Poet, banker and art enthusiast Kayode Aderinokun on his part said, “This play has raised the bar from what we used to know in dance drama. The combination of resources, determination and talent is what crystallized in the work we had tonight. We hope that many more people will start thinking outside the box. I would like to see many more of this.”
The challenge of a proper theatre facility resurfaced during the production as the opening night was marred by poor audio output. The hall, designed for banquets did not produce the needed acoustic for such an event.
But by the second night, the technical team had worked hard to correct the anomaly and from then on it was pretty much smooth sailing.