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How cultural activism, women’s rights define Moremi The Musical Reloaded

By Ransome Mgbeahuru
01 January 2020   |   3:41 am
Stage plays, especially sophisticated and excellently delivered ones, are gradually taking a flight from Nigerian theatre. Worse still, a form of art like music

Moremi and her son, Ela

Stage plays, especially sophisticated and excellently delivered ones, are gradually taking a flight from Nigerian theatre. Worse still, a form of art like music, which Broadway is noted for, has become very rare and in the last few years, Nigeria has had very few of them on its stage.

The yuletide celebration was another opportunity to see the rich tapestry of Nigeria’s arts and culture, as an opera-like musical performance, tagged, Queen Moremi the Musical Reloaded, took the centre stage.

With this production, which mirrors the modern era, while promoting and preserving the country’s cultural heritage, it is the aim of Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, to birth a movement strongly committed to showing Nigeria’s theatrical excellence.

No doubt, the proper interpretation of roles and orchestration of the music in the show is very paramount, hence, the change of director, ushering in newer actors and players, including Femi Branch as Olugbo, Toyin Oshinaike as Ooni Alaiyemore, Ademiluyi Adelegan as Ooni Oranmiyan, Mojisola Kadiri as Esimirin, Princess Obuseh and Oluwafeyikemi Agbola as Omoremi along with other star quality cast member, including, Segun Dada, Olarotimi Adelegan, Ifakolade Ajanaku, Julius Obende, Chidi Okeke and others.

Adding to the list is a host of the University of Lagos Creative Art Department students who featured as ‘extras’ for the musical.

Joshua Alabi was named as the new director. Also, Ben Ogbewei was appointed the music director, while Princess Ronke Ademiluyi remained the creator and producer of the play. The Ooni of Ife, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II and Chief (Mrs.) Olufunsho Amosun were executive producers.

In a cine-like manner, the show takes the audience through the legendary tale of a woman who sacrificed everything: her marriage, son and even risked death in order to secure the future of Ile-Ife.

The reloaded has shown the richness of culture and excellent musical orchestration complemented with acting in a more soothing and sophisticated way.

Moremi Ajasoro, born to powerful hunter, was a queen who offered herself to be captured by the Ugbo tribe (not to be confused with Igbos) who were always raiding Ile-Ife. Confident of her wit and beauty, she made a supreme sacrifice of offering herself to be captured by the raiders, after which their king married her, paving way for her to secure intelligence related to the enemies’ battle strategy, which was eventually used by the people of Ile-Ife to liberate themselves from the raiders.

Speaking at the opening of the show, which held at the Continental Hotels, Lagos, the Ife monarch said, “we’ll keep telling the story of Queen Moremi Ajasoro to bring out the strength and power of women and what they can offer to our society to make a difference.”

According to him, “our prayer is that someday, we will have a female president, probably, who may even do better.”

While reiterating the fact that the country struggled to have a female Speaker of House of Representatives, he added, “but she could not scale through to the end, so, we need to support them to excel in future.”

The monarch also commended the wife of the former Ogun State governor, Mrs. Amosun, who was described as the ‘Queen Moremi of our time’, for her support in the promotion of the female cause.

The Ooni also called on both government and private organisations to support the cause of the girl-child to and give them a sense of pride in the society.

According to him, “we’ll keep telling the story of Queen More Ajasoro to focus on how the society can uplift the girl-child to have a sense of pride and occupy a place in the progress of the country in future.”

The show’s creator and producer, who is also the Global Ambassador for Queen Moremi Ajasoro Initiative, Princess Ronke Ademiluyi, said, “Moremi the Musical: Reloaded is a theatrical visualisation and musical orchestration delivered on stage celebrating the legacy of the Yoruba land heroine. Having been successfully performed in Lagos during Christmas and Easter seasons, the performance has featured notable Nigerian actors like Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Bimbo Manuel, Tosin Akinyemi, Deyemi Okanlawon, Lala Akindoju, Femi Branch, Kehinde Bankole and a host of others.

“It is no doubt that the royal father is a culture enthusiast and his impact on the musical over time has continued to make the event flourish, which in turn, has reflected into a positive impact in the society. A passion that was highly triggered when he saw the stage play for the first time, which according to him, almost had him in tears, was motivated to give the project his ‘all’, as an avenue to sensitise the society about women, celebrate them and ensure they are empowered for leadership position.

“Another of His Imperial Majesty’s impact on the musical is preservation of the Yoruba cultural heritage at home, and also, exporting the culture to different parts of the world. The stage play hosts guests from different parts of the world (Cuba, Brazil, United Kingdom, etc.) who are always entertained and enlightened about the historical and cultural value, diversity and richness of the Yorubas, and Africans as a whole,” she stated.