Art

Matrimony and mayhem in the new Crony Productions

Nick Kwach with fiancee Wanjiru Mwangi in new Crony comedy, at KNT, jAN. 26, 2022

Nick Kwach and Wanjiru preparing their traditional wedding in 'Willing Buyer Willing Seller at Kenya National Theatre, January 26, 2022. PHOTO | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU

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Summary

  • Crony Productions is a brand new theatre troupe that has its debut this Saturday night from 6pm at Kenya National Theatre.
  • Intending to be a red carpet affair, the show, ‘Willing Buyer, Willing Seller’ is a comedy starring a slew of familiar faces.
  • They include Nick Kwach, Cyprian Osoro, Victor Nyaata, Anne Kamau, and Esther Kahuha, all of whom have one thing in common, apart from their acute ability to make people laugh. And that is they have all been key players in Heartstrings Kenya productions. 

Crony Productions is a brand new theatre troupe that has its debut this Saturday night from 6pm at Kenya National Theatre.

Intending to be a red carpet affair, the show, ‘Willing Buyer, Willing Seller’ is a comedy starring a slew of familiar faces.

They include Nick Kwach, Cyprian Osoro, Victor Nyaata, Anne Kamau, and Esther Kahuha, all of whom have one thing in common, apart from their acute ability to make people laugh. And that is they have all been key players in Heartstrings Kenya productions. 

But as she spoke to The Weekender, Anne Kamau underscored an important point. Asked if Crony was on good terms with Heartstrings, she said, “We are all one family.”

Victor Nyaata, Cyprian Osoro & Esthr Kahuha rehearse for 'Willing Buyer, Willing Seller' at KNT, Jan.26, 2022

In rehearsal for Crony comedy, Victor Nyaata, Cyprian Osoro and Esther Kahuhu at Kenya National Theatre onJanuary 26,2022. PHOTO | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU | NMG

COVID-19 has affected artists in every genre differently. In the case of thespians, many chose to either resort to Zoom or go into film or just to relax in lockdown until the virus cooled off. 

Heartstrings gave us one outstanding production at the end of 2021, but otherwise, they were invisible for most of the pandemic times.

By contrast, five of Heartstrings’ faithful cast members spent most of 2021 producing comedies in the Kisii language! 

“No, I don’t know the language well, but well enough to play my part,” says Nick Kwach, who joined in the initiative that Osoro and Nyaata had been carrying on for several years, namely making Kisii comedy shows that have attracted huge local audiences. 

Osoro and Victor in new Crony comedy at KNT, Jan 26, 2022

Osoro and Nyaata at KNT Crony comedy rehearsal, KNT, January 26, 2022. PHOTO | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU | NMG

“We even had people come from the [Kisii] Diaspora to see our productions,” Kwach adds.

The fourth former Heartstrings players is Sammy Mwangi’s assistant director, Dennis Ndeng’a who also admitted Kisii wasn’t his mother tongue. 

“But I would come up with the concept [in Swahili and English] and then our group would [collectively] devise the script,” he said.

It’s the same strategy that Heartstrings follows, and one that the other three had been comfortable with after years of working closely with Heartstrings. 

Only now, Ndeng’a is Crony’s director, and the new company is clearly happy with that as The Weekender saw when she attended a rehearsal of their upcoming show in one of the backstage rooms at the National Theatre.

The big advantage that the foursome had in 2019 is that all the time that Osoro and Nyaata were working with Heartstrings, they were spending time on the side staging skits and scripts in Kisii. 

So they had already built up a fan base that was eager to come out to see shows incorporating non-Kisii speakers who were getting laughs and building audience attendance.

Anne Kamau with Jeritah Mwake rehearsing for new Crony comedy, KNT, Jan. 26,2022

Anne Kamau and Jeritah Mwake in rehearsal for new Crony comedy at KNT on January 26, 2022. PHOTO | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU | NMG

“We had great audiences all last year, and we also following the [COVID] protocols,” said Kwach. “But that’s why we went to Nairobi Cinema. We had plenty of room for our audiences to do social distancing,” he added.

Saturday night’s premiere performance will only be a one-off event, unlike Heartstrings whose shows tend to run three or four days and perform to packed houses. 

But what is also exciting about this new show is that it will feature several other actors who have had a long history with Heartstrings. 

Both Anne Kamau and Esther Kahuha used to be regular players in Heartstrings, but for one reason or another, they absented themselves in the last few years. 

Both are powerful actors who bring those years of experience with them and stand at par with equally powerful players like Kwach, Nyaata, and Osoro. 

The other former Heartstrings member who shifted over to Crony is Timothy Ndisii, who will play one of the relatives of the ‘bride-to-be’ Tracy (Wanjiru Mwangi) in ‘Willing Buyer, Willing Seller’. 

As the story goes, she and Maxwell (Nick Kwach) meet up on New Year’s Eve, just shortly after Max has made a vow with his buddies to get married in 2022. 

Tracy’s timing is perfect. She’s right there seconds after he’s made that pledge. It’s happenstance that they are all in a pub, and Tracy is primed for matrimony. She’s a charmer and they ‘fall in love overnight. 

The wedding is planned soon after she moves into his flat and proceeds to take over his life. But that’s when the problems arise. Max has a mind of his own. 

It turns out the two have very different views on just about everything. And that’s how the hilarity ignites.

I won’t be a spoiler and give the mayhem away. Suffice it to say, fans of Heartstrings are likely to savor the comedy that they will find in ‘Willing Buyer, Willing Seller’ this Saturday at KNT.