Musicals are, by their very nature, extravagant show pieces; multi-media spectacles that marry the best of drama, music and pyrotechnics.
Saro2: The Musical conceived by Bolanle Austen Peters, produced by Terra Kulture and Directed by Kenneth Uphopho is all that and more.
It is a crash course in Nigerian music, tracing an uneven trajectory, as it does, from antiquity to contemporaneity as well as a history lesson outlining times gone by in Lagos from the slave era to the present.
Saro2: The musical with 100 man cast starring some of the best actors and actresses from our stage and movies mines the story of Lagos in great detail and comprehensive girth. It is the story of Lagos writ large on the canvas of an expansive stage peppered with ‘fabu-lations’ and urban legends.
Saro2: The Musical is the story of ambition and of tenacity and of stubborn hope in the human capacity to dream and make it happen like Efe says at the end of the musical “If you can believe it, you can achieve it.” But the journey from belief to realisation can take a lifetime and more.
That is the story of Saro as well as many of us like Bolanle Austen Peters who dreamt that it is possible to conceive and stage Broadway style musicals in Nigeria and is making it happen.
Saro is a dazzling burst of sound and colours, a sweeping kaleidoscope full of sound and fury signifying a lot.
It is, on the surface, the story of four friends who dream of leaving their rustic locale of Kutuwengi for Lagos of the lights as Obaro, one of the quartets keep saying, “we want to blow!”
And to blow they decide to move to Lagos, to the city built by hustlers where they receive the usual Lagos welcome.
Lagos is a dizzying cornucopia of sounds and colours, an urban jungle peopled by human monsters who prey on the hapless and gullible, especially country bumpkins like our quartet; Efe, Aziz, Obaro and Olaitan.
Their encounter with Lagos policemen is farcical and laugh-out-loud funny while symptomatic of the nature of the urban jungle where everyone is a predator and the hapless is the prey.
Accosting the four young men who are walking on foot, a police man barks at them: “Reverse. Inner light. If you move I shoot myself.”
Locked up, the quartet are asked to sing and a man who has come to bail his charge hears them and decides to give them a new lease of life. That man is Don, a suave, street savvy and musically inclined character who sees in the four young men, a second chance at the big time.
Their attempts to get it right, stick together and make it in Lagos make for amazing comedy but it is the message at the core of the musical that resonates; to make it you need hard work and dedication.
Nigerian artistes will surely empathise with Saro because reflected in the story of the four are the stories of people like 2face, Psquare, Flavour, MI, Omawumi and many others, young men and women drawn to Lagos from their bucolic beginnings by the lure of success and the big time and who through hard work and dedication have crowned themselves kings of Lagos.
Gideon Okeke, known best as the Bad Boy of Mnet’s Tinsel is a revelation and a delight. He has stage presence, his talent shines through and he sings and dances like a pro.
Bimbo Manuel as the Svengali-like Don is a beauty to behold. He is an aging actor at the height of his powers. A dandy and a dreamer, he sees in his new charges the final realisation of his dreams.
Adesuwa Etomi shines as is usual, displaying excellent acting chops and that timing that makes for good comedy but her stage time is short especially as Etomi already showed she could sing in the stage play ‘Band Aid’.
Kenneth Uphopho deserves credit as Director and alongside his sound, light and stage directors acquitted themselves beautifully. The scene changes, lighting and transitions were done on cue making for a fast paced and vibrant production.
At the end Saro2: The Musical is both spectacle and extravaganza, a surfeit of audio-visual pyrotechnics but it is much more than that; it is the story of every man or woman who has ever dreamt of something and aspired to realise a goal no matter how big or small.
That is what makes Saro2: The musical an incredibly affecting human story, one that is at once a testimony of aspiration and yet a talisman of hope for everyone dreaming of a better future.
That is the significance of Saro2: The Musical.
Saro2: the Musical ends today with shows at 1pm, 4pm and 7pm at Muson Center
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