Madiba is the latest musical to hit Melbourne theatres. Set in South Africa during the Apartheid regime, we follow the story of Nelson Mandela and the cultural and racial struggles of its people.
With Music, Lyrics and Book by Jean-Pierre Hadida & Alicia Sebrien and English Co-Adaptors Dylan Hadida & Dennis Watkins, originally from Paris, Madiba sees its English debut in Melbourne. The show is a narrative with David Denis as The Narrator and Perci Moeketsi as Nelson Mandela.
I am usually quite the fan of narratives, however with this production I found myself lost. The rapping, dancing and random appearances from David Denis were very distracting. One example was a scene with full ensemble and David just randomly appears and dances to left of stage, stealing my gaze from the rest of the performance.
The biggest surprise for me was Tim ‘Timomatic’ Omaji as Sam Onotou. Along with Barry Conrad as William Xulu and Madeline Perrone as Helena Van Leden in an otherwise terrible show, these three certainly made an impression. Their vocal performances were brilliant and left me wanting more of them.
However the rest of the show lacks finesse. Missing simple things like lighting and audio queues, such as the narrator being in the right spot for the only light on stage and stumbling over his lines. This along with microphones not being ready for a line left me cringing. The show originally debuted in Paris back in 2016, however this is the first English language production. Perhaps much of the show was lost in translation? With such a limited run in Melbourne, I really hope they get all the kinks out before it goes to Sydney or it may not go any further.
Madiba the Musical still needs a hell lot of work to be up to scratch with a show worthy our top theatres. It feels more like a show that should be on a much smaller stage where the little mistakes aren’t as noticeable. If you are willing to take a chance, then go and see it, otherwise I’d give it a miss.
Tickets are available via Ticketmaster for a strictly limited season in Melbourne this October at the Comedy Theatre before heading to Sydney in November.