In 2011, I was part of an amazing musical theatre production, The Heartbeat Musical. After auditions, a 3-day workshop and final casting, I was proud to be one of the principal 4 characters.
- Zara Udofia – Arin
- Kelvin Dede – File
- Toju Ejoh – Kashi
- Omoye Uzamere – Bisi (now Esosa)
Three months of voice and music lessons, dance rehearsals (no, Uche Onah breeds soldiers) and drama training as I put it under the direction of Aunty [are you not a Nigerian??] Tosan Ugbeye.
In that time, I grew as a performer and acquired a family – Tosan Ugbeye, Tosin Otudeko, Zara and Toju Ejoh, Kenneth Uphopho (the P is silent), Kelvin and Juliana Dede, Uche Onah, Damiloa Kalejaiye…
Four years later, I hear that The Heartbeat Musical is coming back and this time through Uncle [you get it] Olu Jacobs and Aunty Joke Silva of Lufodo Productions. I was excited!!
I was invited for a two-week workshop in December 2015! What I remember from that period wasn’t how my bones creaked from Uche’s dance routines, but how much the material had changed! It felt like meeting an old friend who had grown into a graceful woman. The script had been rewritten, new songs were introduced and some old ones been redone.
Attending the workshop were actors, singers, dancers, actor-singers, actor-dancers, singer-actors, etc.
I remember singers and singer-actors sparring at the keyboard during lunch, a musician playing the keyboard. During the improvisation and acting sessions, the actors and actor-singers took centre stage and the dancer-actors/dancers were the leads at every movement session.
It was always fun to observe the subtle competition, the camaraderie, new friendships develop, long hidden abilities unearthed… everyone committed to the workshop. It was a fantastic creative retreat.
In production, things happen so when the March production date didn’t materialize, we waited patiently and prayed for the producers.
Finally a fresh call was made in August and “there was a Pharaoh who didn’t know Joseph…” a new director (the amazing Najite Dede who I love and respect dearly) conducted fresh auditions and I wasn’t cast. I admit I was disappointed, but luckily I had other work engagements that compensated only a tiny little bit… lol. Regardless, this is my family’s project and I would be involved on or off the stage.
From the random rehearsal visit to the rehearsal review where few got to see the material as it shaped up, it has been magic.
The show opened to the public on November 10 and I have seen it three times so far, only because I’ve been so busy.
Actors sometimes have a feeling when watching a performance one could have been a part of. I can’t describe it, but you see yourself in the scene, review the performance of the other actor(s) and imagine how they would play the part (differently). I know someone who felt nostalgia watching the play. Now, when I saw the show, I couldn’t see myself in it. The casting is so perfect, they all suit one another and there is a balance of theatre first timers and egbons, career singers and otherwise. I know they have sharpened each other.
Also, this is a chance to showcase a new batch, if you may, of performers who will look back on this time of their lives with fondness, like I do with my time on the production, five years ago.
I am so proud to be on the team and I want to share it with the whole world. So for the remaining shows (December 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17 and 18) I will bring someone to the show.
But first, I’ll tell you why you ought to see The Heartbeat Musical:
- It is spectacular!!
- All the songs are original and very well written.
- The music was made from scratch and is played live as the performers sing. (I have been with Tosin Otudeko in the studio when she’s working with Efosa Lawal to create the magic and my personal opinion is that she is a genius).
- This project has been cooking for over 10 years and has been tweaked to perfection. No wishy washy for anybody.
- It has some of the best theatre talents on and off stage.
- The chemistry among actors is enviable.
- This is a show with a message for everyone living in this generation.
- It has a beautiful love story (who no love love?).
The show has character doubles, so if you are a theatre buff like me I recommend you see it at least twice. The music of Heartbeat lives long after the performance and I believe there’s no better ear worm than a Broadway or West End quality Nigerian song tingling your ears days after performance.
Finally, I want to say a big congratulations to the cast and crew of Heartbeat and wish them success in exporting this amazing project, because why ever not?!
Written by Omoye Uzamere (Performer, Creative Nut, Foodie!)