The well lit stage speaks volume of the evocative dance steps and music that will latter grace the stage that Sunday evening. It is the grand finale of the well acclaimed musical, Saro.
The hall at the Oriental Hotel, Lekki, is filled with lovers of theatre arts who are there to experience firsthand an uncommon staging of an indigenous play.
It tells the story of four young men in search of fortune and fame in Lagos. Like Oliver Twist, who thought he could pick gold on the streets of London, they thought Lagos was a land of gold. When they arrived Lagos, reality dawn on them that Lagos is not a land of fortune as they had thought. On getting to Lagos, they find themselves in Yaba, where they were ‘charged’ some fees for ‘looking.’ Their bags were stolen. They landed in prison where they find a benefactor who sets them up in the business of music.
In terms of production of quality, Saro the musical, shares the same affinity with Kakadu, the first indigenous musical production to be staged in Nigeria. However, both are modelled after the famous South African broadway styled musical, ‘Umoja: The Journey.’
The setting of the venue, the multi-dimensional stage, the colourful costumes, the elaborate light and sound input, plus the actors, dancers, musicians, attest to the new wave of theatre production emerging in Nigeria.
The actions in each scene are laced with evocative music, a blend of different genres of music – jazz, afro-beat, hip-hop, high-life, juju, Apala, and many other contemporary Nigerian music genres. The audience is also treated to some of the finest well-choreographed dance steps. The very first staging of the musical was last Friday, which brought over 2000 pupils and students from various Lagos schools into the prestigious new Oriental Hotel Lagos. The second show, as expected – being a Friday afternoon – recorded a modest crowd, a little more than half of the hall but the large hall was filled to the brim for the third show at 7pm, which was graced by the former governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the state’s commissioner for tourism, Disun Holloway. Others were the actor-couple Olu Jacobs and Joke Silva; the popular actress, Dakore Egbuson-Akande, who also played an exceptional role of a hostess in the musical, among other dignitaries.
Edem Duke, minister of tourism, arts and culture, who attended the opening of the play, commended the executive producer of ‘Saro,’ Bolanle Austen-Peters and her team, for the excellent production, hailing her as a phenomenal lady.
“Bolanle Austen-Peters has gone around into the recesses of Lagos and recesses of Nigeria; she has brought the rough and the smooth and merged them into a kaleidoscope of stars. This is truly fascinating Nigeria. This is the commonwealth of Nigeria. This is the property that we have several years to enjoy and I want to say she is a phenomenal lady to have thought about all of this,” Duke said.
The minister pleaded with corporate Nigeria to sponsor the show and take it to Abuja and other Nigerian cities, instead of wasting money on foreign artistes and groups.
“Often time, we get invited to different venues in Lagos where corporate organisations have gone to South Africa, to East Africa to bring individuals and groups to entertain us, but here we are the very best of Africa. A repertoire of songs and dances, properly choreographed, dexterous dancers, pulsating drumbeats and the musical is just phenomenal.
“If you could be kind enough to take this show to Abuja, take this show to other parts of the country, so that we can see that our young men and women are talented. If you can do it (sponsor the production) as Christmas gift to us, it will be wonderful,” he said.
Speaking earlier, Austen-Peters, who is also the founder of Terra Kulture, reiterated that corporate Nigeria and wealthy individuals need to support the arts because there were many talented youths in the country that needed a platform to showcase their gifts.
According to her, they have to come to the venue because there are inadequate theatres in Lagos and that putting up the production wasn’t easy, especially having to employ over 300 people.
All three shows scheduled to hold for 11am, 3pm and 7pm, were sold out. The children show at 11am in particular, had a massive turnout of students from about 20 schools, including Pine Field School Lekki, Edgewood College Lekki, Temple Schools Ilupeju, and Greensprings Lekki.
By: FUNKE OSAE-BROWN