By the time the Tinga Tinga Tales – The Musical came to an end everyone was on their feet. Well, we were already on our feet thanks to the interactive nature of the show that saw us singing along and dancing all through. We remained standing, ululating and clapping long after the cast had high-fived us on their way out and disappeared behind the curtain.
As a theatre lover, any play would capture my attention but the gamble is whether I would enjoy it once I start watching. The good thing is that Kenyan plays (although few and far between these days) are usually well done. This time there was a difference and I was carrying my heart in my hand because I had brought along my choosy five-year-old, with whom I had never attended a play, let alone a musical.
Enter the cast with their multicoloured attire and animals she could recognise from the Tinga Tinga Tales series she used to watch on TV. She was beside herself. She named all of them and the questions kept coming: ‘oh how come they can walk on two legs?’ ‘Who taught them how to sing and dance?’ She also wanted to know if I would buy her Hippo’s costume which was a black, shiny, and lacy affair, only to change her mind when she saw chameleon’s multicoloured attire towards the end. We settled for photos with as many animals as we could get.
The creativity that went into the costumes was simply amazing and you know how kids relate to bright colours and the fact that their favourite characters had been brought to life. As far as creativity goes, my best costume was the chameleon’s colourful attire that just lit up the whole room. I also loved the lion and giraffe; their attires as they matched what we have always known about them. The costumes also taught how having good self-esteem and knowing you are loved can make you go from being drab to lively and smart.
Tinga Tinga Tales, the Musical is the brainchild of Claudya Lloyd, the director of Tinga Rain productions working with Eric Wainaina. The former is also credited with creating The original Tinga Tinga animated TV series that showed across the world and in Kenya as well.
Its, therefore, small wonder that the voices in the musical were nothing but glorious. The first song, a very interactive number, had already endeared monkey to us and soon we were singing along with him and interacting with other members of the audience. Let me just let you in on a secret, there were several celebrity voices so it is up to you to be keen to know who is who.
In an interview with Afromum.com, Alvan Gatitu, a former Tusker project Fame runner-up said that he really loved working in the musical as he loved singing and producer Eric Wainaina had been asking him to do one and he was finally convinced. The production gave him chance to act and sing at the same time it; he also loved bringing joy to the little faces.
The producer of the show Sheba Hirst said that they were inspired by the love of the kids in the house and decided to set up the show for the whole family to enjoy. The Production is set to go to New York after the month-long shows. They will perform on Broadway.
According to Ms Hirst,
We are so excited to be taking this show on Broadway at the New Victory theatre. It is such a thrill and such an excitement. I don’t know whether we believe it yet but we think that it is an opportunity for us to show the greatness of what comes from Nairobi, from Kenya as well. I don’t think we get as many opportunities to take what we do out there.
Coming up with such a production comes with its own challenges. For starters, assembling the gear, and creative moving parts in an environment where musical theatres are not the normalcy was a task. They also had to navigate how to sell the vision to other stakeholders and find the resources to do it.
Kenyans do not have a culture of taking their children for plays. Musicals such as the Tinga Tinga Tales are a way of breaking the cycle and introducing them into a world that most of us only learnt about once we got to high school.
You can get the tickets for the show from Ticket Sasa for between Ksh.1000 and Ksh.2500 depending on the kind of show that you choose.