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The making of Moremi The Musical

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Members of cast with Lagos State governor Akinwunmi Ambodeduring the December show

From Thursday, April 18, 2019, Moremi The Musical, was back on stage at the Terra Kulture, Lagos. Fresh off from the sellout recorded in the ‘December to Remember’ show, the executive producers, Princess Ronke Ademiluyi and Chief Olufunsho Amosun, wife of the governor of Ogun State, and the director, Bolanle Austen-Peters, believe that by May 5, 2019, when the second season ends, the show would have shutdown Lagos again. The musical has surpassed just being a form of entertainment but a key awareness to the present conversation about feminism and women leadership. It retells the story of Oloori Moremi, who lived in the 12th century and was married to the then king of Ile Ife, a kingdom that is said to have been at war with an adjoining tribe who were known to them as the Forest people (Ìgbò in the Yoruba language, though the said tribe is believed by scholars to have had no relation to the contemporary Ìgbòs of modern Nigeria). GREGORY AUSTIN NWAKUNOR spoke with the director of the show, Bolanle Austin Peters and producer, Joseph Umoibom on the making of the monster hit on set.

JOSEPH UMOIBOM, PRODUCER
Of all the musicals you have produced and directed, is Moremi The Musical your favourite?
ACTUALLY all my musicals have a special place in my heart from Saro to Wakaa, Fela and now Moremi. This production is different, because it is of legendary proportions and it has our beautiful culture represented. It is a joint production by House of Oduduwa, Rejuvenee and Bolanle Austen-Peters (Bolanle Austeen-Peters).

What does it involve to make this type of production?
It is a very elaborate process. We do auditions for weeks with our core team in place and the director BAP ultimately chooses the best person for the role. We also get the administrative, sponsorship and logistics side of things in place. That is huge because it involves over 170 people.

How did the journey start?
House of Oduduwa in partnership with Rejuvenne had asked us to produce and direct it, having seen Moremi several times from different angles. BAP took a completely innovative and unusual angle. She got a series of scriptwriters and considering her directorial concept, the lines developed.

The choreography is of high standard. It won’t be wrong to say it is out of this world. Who are your choreographers?
We have expert choreographers who have worked with us for over 10 years now at Terra Kulture. Paolo Sissiano and Justin Ezirin sit with the director and ask her vision for each scene and once they get a sense of what she wants, they immediately go to action. House of Emisara also provided the incredible jewellery. Making the authenticity complete.

BAP
Who were the costumiers?
Terra Kulture in house team — Itunnu, Juliana and Fidelia, while Mrs. Austen-Peters did all the colour scheme and style direction for each person’s costume. The costumiers then make them.

What is the process of developing the music?
As the lines are being read, I generally ask the talented music composer Kehinde Oritinehin to put melody into the lines for me. I decide where I want music placed at every point.

At times, the music composer puts together original pieces for me, which the band and casts work together on. We have copyrighted all our music as part of our BAP production catalogue.

What next?
Our hope is that we, together with House Of Oduduwa, take the play around the world like we have done with all other plays. We are in conversation with some Americans on the possibility of taking it to New York.


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