Nigerian history remembers a time where children were gathered around elders who told legendary stories. Elders who knew how to pass messages by weaving them into captivating stories. Today, very few people have what it takes to tell entrancing stories. And Bolanle Austen-Peters is one of those few.
Moremi the Musical is one of BAP’s masterpieces. It is a retelling of the story of a queen who once was, and whose existence was crucial to the liberation of the ancient Yoruba people.
In an interview with TVC, Bolanle Austen-Peters said “I cast actors based on merit, not fame”. Her response is an obvious pointer to the painstaking effort it takes to screen and cast the people who are perfect for each individual role.
Watching Moremi the Musical, you can easily see that each actor is suited to the role they played. The actors who brought the story of Queen Moremi to life are Tosin Adeyemi, Bimbo Manuel, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Deyemi Okanlawon, Lala Akindoju, Femi Branch, Ayoola Ayolola, and Kehinde Bankole.
Moremi is a citizen-by-marriage of Ile-Ife. Prior to this, she was a hunter and daughter to Lukugba and Princess Olunbe of Offa. She lived in the 12th century, a time when Ile-Ife was under consistent attacks from the Ugbo tribe. The attacks involved raiding the city of Ile-Ife and kidnapping women and children.
The helpless people of Ile-Ife turned to their gods for help. They sacrificed all they could and prayed every day just so the attacks would seize. But Moremi would not sit still and wait for the gods to act. She put her marriage and family on the line in an effort to free her people.
Her zeal led her to make a pact with Esimirin – a river goddess. Ultimately, she was successful in her fight but at a cost many would refuse to pay.
BAP Productions have recently decided to shift its focus from producing fictional plays to telling stories of people that once walked our grounds. The cast of Moremi gave a spirited performance that wowed the audience, especially the actor, Tosin Adeyemi, who played Moremi.
The various aspects of the play were meticulously planned and calculated so that the end product was a production that BAP was proud of. The choreography, with Paolo Sisiano as one of the choreographers, was top-notch.
The music was also one of the best parts of the play. According to Bolanle, the musical score was created from scratch with the help of the House of Oduduwa organization. The result of the collaboration was musical numbers that gave goosebumps to all those who heard it.
Bolanle did not relent in her effort in making sure everything was perfect. She paid keen attention to details in such a way that everything looked as realistic as possible – not just the costumes but also the feelings the actors inspired in the audience, and the emotions the music conveyed. Everything was purposeful and the result is the masterpiece that shook various theatres – Moremi the Musical.
The Story of Moremi is not one only the Yoruba people should know, but one every Nigerian should know. Moremi made an unimaginable sacrifice to secure her people and her story was beginning to fade into the echoes of history. But Bolanle Austen-Peters did a phenomenal job of breathing life into the story, telling it on a stage made alive with lighting, costumes, and songs.