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Kakadu brings scintillating performances to Joburg Theatre stage Print E-mail
12 June 2017

Kakadu the Musical is big, bold and captivating.

The play’s 30-plus cast has since Thursday, 8 June been soaking up audiences at the Joburg Theatre through their energetic and exquisitely choreographed music, dance and drama performances.

The musical is about the hopes and dreams of a young nation trying to find its way from a painful colonial past to the jubilation of independence, only for them to be shattered by a senseless civil war following a military coup.

Set in Kakadu, a famous 1960s Lagos nightclub, the musical’s backdrop is an era just after independence. It uses highlife and vibrant music – that genre made world-famous by Fela Kuti and others – to drive the point home.

The nightclub owner, Lord Lugard offers his patrons a distinctive social life that revolves around four young friends – Emeka, Kola, Osahon and Dapo – and their lovers Amonia, Bisi, Enoh and Hosanna.

It is a story about love, friendship, survival, drama and fashion. The performances are scintillating from start to finish.

In the opening scene, nine performers dressed in all-white outfits burst onto the Mandela Stage with an energetic dance sequence. Then Emeka and Kola, who have been playing a game of draughts, are debating how corrupt the new political leaders are. Emeka’s British boss, a Mr Ramsbottom, agrees that Nigeria was not ready for independence. It’s a spirited debate but Kola doesn’t agree with its sentiments.

Lagos newcomer Osahon, in the meantime, is grappling with the fast life and cannot get enough of Kakadu and its fine women.

Dapo, a smooth-talking rich Casanova, adds colour. A mother of all parties is planned at Kakadu to celebrate Nigeria’s fifth independence, and it’s ladies’ night.

Meanwhile, Amonia, Bisi and Hassan are getting ready for the ladies’ night. Their conversation in the salon focuses on a possible romance between Bisi and Emeka. After dancing the night away, everyone is looking forward to the Independence Day celebrations. But they are in for a rude awakening as their jubilation is disrupted by a military coup right in the middle of the celebrations.

A curfew means people cannot even move to check on others. The mayhem that follows leaves Nigeria at the crossroads, with millions dead. Heightened ethnic tensions make things worse and tear couples apart.

Kakadu the Musical is both a political and social commentary on Nigeria. It is about the winds of change, a colonial hangover and nation building. It is about picking up the pieces after the devastation of an unnecessary civil war. It is a story about how Nigeria is rebuilding, 56 years after independence.

The music is a huge part of the message.

Judging by the standing ovation at the end of the marathon show, and the applause in the foyer as the cast thank the crowd, Joburg is in for more fantastic nights of this award-winning musical, which has already made its mark in Nigeria and Switzerland since 2014.

The show will run daily until Sunday, 18 June. Tickets range from R180 to R350 per person.

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Last Updated on 12 June 2017