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Art

Staged biographies will be big in 2020

Michael Jackson
In this file photo taken on March 19, 1996 US pop star Michael Jackson waves to photographers during a press conference in Paris. PHOTO | AFP 

The new year is already shaping up to be one in which theatre will come alive in ways we haven’t seen before.

Heartstrings Entertainment will kick off the year’s shows with Good for Nothing from February 6-9, back at Alliance Francaise.

But that is just the beginning of what’s in store. The most ambitious production by Hearts of Art to date will be Walter Sitati’s latest original script entitled Wangari Maathai: The Musical. Auditions are about to begin to find the female actor who can best play the title role.

But HOA isn’t the only theatre company with a mad ambition to put on a musical that should win local and even regional acclaim. Nairobi Performing Arts Studio is getting set to announce a nationwide ‘call out’ to Kenyan dancers (who can also act and sing) to play none other than Michael Jackson!

“We’ll be doing a countrywide TV search to find Kenya’s own Michael Jackson,” says Stuart Nash who is likely to elicit an avalanche of local dancers who would love to be in The Michael Jackson Story.

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In the meantime, NPAS opens auditions this Sunday at Kenya National Theatre from 3pm. These will be specifically for intakes to Studio classes in everything from acting, voice training and performance, script writing and production.

Auditions will be required since NPAS students get opportunities straight away to be in musicals to be staged in both Nairobi and Nakuru where Nash is working with the County Governor to produce shows throughout 2020.

In the past NPAS musicals such as Sarafina, Jesus Christ Superstar and Grease were all full of students learning the theatre ropes by doing the actual work under Nash’s direction.

Besides The Michael Jackson Story, NPAS plans to produce Lion King and Blood Brothers as well as one more performance in Nakuru of Sarafina this year.

Since Nash first came to Kenya in 2015 to stage shows like Annie, Oliver and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat for one private Nairobi school, he has also put on all those NPAS musicals as well as plays like Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Merchant of Venice, Caucasian Chalk Circle and Kigogo.

Speaking of Romeo and Juliet, the other consistently professional performing artist who has an arts centre of her own in Cooper Rust who plans on doing the same Shakespeare classic in the near future with her students from Dance Centre Kenya.

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