Yinka Olatunbosun and Ugo Aliogo
One of the most commercially successful musicals of the 90s, Sister Act is donning a new garment, made of theatrical fabrics and all. That was news from South Africa as the Waterfront Theatre School resident in Cape Town will be staging a theatre performance while training young talents in Nigeria. Since April 2011, the Sister Act movie had run its course on Broadway Theatre and had received five Tony Award nominations including Best Musical. With the renewed interest in musical shows in Nigeria, Sister Act finally arrives here.
The Managing Director, Colours in Africa, Dr Soji Akinkugbe is one man to thank for that. For one, he had always nursed the ambition of contributing to the growth and development of the Nigeria theatre having been influenced largely by the likes of Duro Ladipo, Hubert Ogunde and the legendary Afrobeat musician, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.
Consequently, he built and sustained friendship with a group of theatre artists at the Waterfront Theatre School who are passionate about developing the robust skills in Nigerian Theatre.
Between November and December 2016, Akinkugbe in collaboration with the Waterfront Theatre School and 2wice as Nice will be presenting a musical performance of “Sister Act” and it will be one of the longest running shows that had ever been witnessed in Nigeria. The all-Nigerian cast production will be trained while technical skills will be obtained from the travelling theatre team. Although the duration is not certain yet, the organisers are working around a period of two weeks for the massive production.
“The theatre is a dynamic way of encountering a performance than a film,” revealed Akinkugbe at a press briefing held in Lagos. “I have always nursed the ambition of being able to bring one of the big musical performances to the country, but I was quite emphatic that I needed a Nigerian cast. The country can be a challenging market to sell from the standpoint of perception and ignorance.
“It is difficult to sell, so over the last few it has time taken me time to find a technical suitable partner. We do have the skills which can be trained but we do not have the technical skills. We do not have the technical equipment and the proper stage. The only ones we have in Lagos are the National Theatre and the University of Lagos, but they are in moribund conditions.”
Akinkugbe who is the Executive Director of the project spoke on the production and what to expect from the award winning director, Garth Tavares as well as the international theatre artist, Genna Galloway. “We are working with the Delia Sainsbury-led Waterfront Theatre School which trains young people and bring them for the market, so I was very much interested in working with a developmental organisation whose core business is training. For us, this is going to be a learning process. I’m very confident in a Nigerian cast; ultimately we will have a Nigerian technical team. So, to work with the team, we will have understudied for all the major roles, the music director, the director, the choreographer and the costumier. After six to ten shows, the basic skills would have been transferred to competent Nigerians. We also look forward to working with them in South Africa when they are organising shows.”