Madiba the Musical: a theatre review by Elana Bowman

November 2, 2018 by Elana Bowman
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Madiba the Musical celebrates the life of the former South African president’s struggle towards freedom; is interwoven with stories and songs of the Black Africans during the apartheid era.

With excellent sketchbook images of the young artist character Will (Barry Conrad) projected onto the stage screen backdrop, it was a musical about history, forbidden love, and the power of the word ‘Amandla’

The second half was more spirited, combining African dance and vocal songs including gumboot dancing which the audience loved.

And the whole musical used contemporary settings (almost looking to the future) with a bit of rap in the narration with African dancing which will appeal to younger audiences who have not yet learnt about South Africa’s past.

Tarisai Vushe who played Sandy gave an outstanding vocal performance, supporting her husband Sam (Tim Omaji), who ended up in prison for standing up for freedom of his people.

Mandela was played by Perci Moeketsi whose voice matched Nelson Mandela’s. (Close your eyes and you could almost imagine him on the stage!)

He sang an excellent version of the poem Invictus which was the poem that encouraged the former president to master his own fate and to be the captain of his own soul.

Perci (who played Mandela) grew up in South Africa when times were changing (after apartheid he went to a mix- race school and he had lived and experienced life in the townships as a youngster) so he felt doubly blessed to honour his hero on stage last night.

Fans will love Madiba’s shuffle, his shirts of course, and his eventual election to President of South Africa with his plans to bring peace to the country.

French writers Alicia Sebrien and Jean-Pierre Hadida wanted to tell the story of Mandela’s pursuit of peace and reconciliation in his homeland. They wanted to remember and honour Madiba’s life, and the lives of the people who struggled for their freedom with him.

“There are no languages that are more universal than music and dancing to reconcile nations, cultures, religions and generations,” said the show’s creators.

While hard-core South Africans would long for a little more soul and struggle in this musical; and a lot more of an African vibe, Mandela’s story is an important one to tell and share.

Cast members included singers and dancers from South Africa, Rwanda, Tasmania, and Sydney and they honoured Madiba with their elation and joy on stage.

Madiba the Musical started in Melbourne from 3 October, opened at Sydney’s State Theatre from last night, and will open in Canberra from 22 November.

It will move to Perth in December and finish its Australian tour in Adelaide next year

For more information and to book tickets: www.madibamusical.com.au

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