“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living” Nelson Mandela
As an ex-pat South African who has called Australia home for over 30 years now, whenever the opportunity to indulge in my native country’s history, I am front and centre wearing my heart and soul on my sleeve.
So, when word spread that a musical regaling the story of one of South Africa’s greatest leaders was in production, I knew this would be a small moment when theatrical history would be made. Madiba the Musical is just that, theatrical history in a narrative that needs to be told. A story of a man that the world has learnt of and ultimately learnt from through his trials, convictions, perseverance and ultimately selflessness, Nelson Mandela became a great leader of a world that fought for acceptance and freedom to be who you are always. It is within this spirit the incredible cast and production of Madiba the Musical operate from, delivering a performance brimming with searing honesty and heart pounding reverence of a passage in time that changed the views of South Africa and how its global community viewed her.
This production, which initially opened in Melbourne earlier in October has finally made its way to Sydney to wow the audience with its engaging, powerful and poignant portrayal of the race issue that plagued South Africa for decades. Delivered through powerful performances by some of Australia’s finest theatre and performance professionals, alongside Africa’s brightest stars, this is a musical that is necessary viewing.
Speaking with two of the incredible leading male performers in the production, multi-platinum award winning Sydney based recording artist and performer Tim ‘ Timomatic’ Omaji and respected South African actor and thespian Perci Moeketsi about their personal experience being cast as two powerful and significant men in the production, both are unanimous in stating that these roles and this production have had a life changing effect on their lives and themselves as African men today. Moeketsi, hailing from the South African capital of Pretoria, portrays his role as Nelson Mandela with such depth and authenticity that Madiba himself would burst with pride.
From his powerful stance, regal stride and the voice that stirred nations, Madiba lives on in Perci Moeketsi through every detailed performance. Asking Moeketsi how he prepared himself for the role of Madiba he replied, “ It is a role I have been preparing for my whole life. All my trials and successes throughout my career and personal life no doubt have led me to this role. It took more than just an audition and a phone call to say you got the role, every step I have taken has led me to this and I am so proud!”
Pride is a theme that threads its way through the entire cast and is a word that one of the other leading men in the production is only too familiar with, Tim Omaji. No stranger to the Australian Pop / RnB music world, Omaji is one of Sydney’s most beloved performers and it is no surprise to see him cast in such an intense role as Sam Onotou, a fellow prisoner who served time alongside Nelson Mandela on Robbin Island. A passionate and spirited man, Sam encapsulates glimpses of Omaji, as he entertains the process of transformation that stage work ultimately puts you through and says, “ This role has pushed me in so many ways physically and mentally that of course it is going to change me in some way. The role of Sam Onotou has made me look at things from a different perspective and has made me a deeper man in thought and action, which is a good thing”, adds Omaji. “ I hope that whatever people take away from this show is that they feel provoked to think and feel something about the production. Good or bad, feel it, don’t be indifferent as that is not what this show is about, it was created to educate and touch people and we hope it does just that.
This musical is a joy to watch, a tear-jerker and a celebration of a life that has changed the world. From the mind of its author, Jean-Pierre Hadida to its producer Neil Corker and everyone in between, Madiba the Musical is a true revelation! Congratulations to the incredibly hardworking cast to everyone involved large or small, this show is necessary and deserves to be depicted in such a respectful and honorable way, in one of Sydney’s most historical spaces, The State Theatre.
The show is in Sydney for 3 weeks before hitting the road to Canberra and then New Zealand. Tickets are available at the box office or via http://www.ticketmaster.com.au/Madiba-the-Musical-tickets/artist/2467391.
Maxine Johns aka Ms Hennessey