Energetic and compelling new stage show Madiba the Musical – a Celebration of the Life of Nelson Mandela will tour Canberra in November.
Madiba the Musical, which celebrates the life of the former South African leader who would have turned 100 in July this year, is interwoven with stories of the fight against apartheid and forbidden love in a troubled land, and will be shown at Canberra Theatre Centre.
African dance and vocal traditions are given a contemporary setting alongside eternal love songs and stirring anthems in a show that tells of Mandela’s lifework as a lawyer and activist for peace through the story of young artist Will, who is the victim of apartheid in South Africa.
French writers Alicia Sebrien and Jean-Pierre Hadida said in creating Madiba The Musical, they wanted to tell the story of Mandela’s pursuit of peace and reconciliation in his homeland.
They said the musical was also timed to mark 25 years since the abolition of apartheid in South Africa.
“There are no languages that are more universal than music and dancing to reconcile nations, cultures, religions and generations,” the show’s creators said. “We want to remember Madiba; Nelson Mandela is certainly the last providential figure of the 20th century.”
Shortly after Mandela’s death in 2013, his Xhosa clan name Madiba emerged worldwide in condolences. The clan or family name represents a person’s ancestry and is used as a sign of respect and affection.
Mandela, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, spent 27 years in prison for fighting racist white rule and became South Africa’s first black president in 1994, serving one five-year term.
The director of the current French touring production of Madiba The Musical, Pierre-Yves Duchesne, is also the founder of the International Academy of Musicals, the first school in France dedicated to musical theatre.
Duchesne said he has incorporated the latest in stage technology in Madiba The Musical, with the sketchbook images of the young artist character Will projected on to the stage screen backdrop.
“Nelson Mandela’s vision of the world was truly turned towards the future, and that is why the stage direction must look towards modernity,” Duchesne said.
French reviews have praised the production’s staging and describe Madiba The Musical as “a powerful and generous work”, “the essence of a fight for humanity” and “a show that touches our hearts”.
Madiba the Musical began its journey in France with its world premiere at Le Comedia Theatre in Paris in January 2016. The first English language production of Madiba the Musical opens in Australia in October, and it will tour to New Zealand, UK and the US in 2019, said the show’s Australian producer Neil Croker.
Mr Croker said Madiba The Musical’s Australian tour cast members will be announced shortly.
Picture: Julien Vachon