Christmas musicals bring joy and laughter to Nairobi

The principal cast of Jack and the Beanstalk at Braeburn. PHOTO | COURTESY
The principal cast of Jack and the Beanstalk at Braeburn. PHOTO | COURTESY 

This month Christmas musicals will be opening both at Braeburn and Phoenix theatres in Nairobi.

Braeburn Players bringing back the family classic, Jack and the Beanstalk, opening November 21 and running two full weekends until November 30.

Directed by Ben James with musical direction from Allen Corbet, the beauty of Christmas pantomimes like Jack is that adults and students both take part in the storytelling (although most of the youth in Jack, apart from Skye McSorley, are in the chorus).

In the process, the young people are exposed to semi-professional theatre and so they begin to learn the basics of how to put on a production from seasoned ‘amateurs’ like Lindsay Takkunen, Terry Childs, Sam Mihajlovic, Trudy McGilvray, Maidda Bajwa, Simon Smithers, Jenny Childs and Chris Hardisty.

The traditional fairy tale is transformed in the pantomime, but it’s still charming as Jack’s home village of Serenia is living under the oppressive regime of the Giant (Chris Hardisty) who’s never seen but who sends his chief emissary (Simon Smithers) to collect ‘taxes’ from the poor peasants.

Light and laughable

The local King (Trudy McGilvray) is powerless to protect his people, but of course, Jack (Lindsay Takkunen) must come to the rescue.

A story told in a way children are bound to love, Braeburn’s Jack and the Beanstalk comes complete with fairies, fantasy and even a charming princess (Maidda Bajwa) in distress.

But it’s not only Princess Melissa who needs rescue; the whole village needs to be freed from the Giant’s grabby greed. Whether Jack will be up to the task is what families will find out when they watch Braeburn’s annual pantomime.

Meanwhile, Phoenix Players are staging a brand new Christmas musical scripted by Steve Muturi and directed by Eugene Oyoo.

Joy to the World is based on the New Testament Nativity story, only it’s set in present-day Kenya on the outskirts of Nairobi in a village named Nazareth not far from Banana Hill.

Muturi has made sure to keep the story light and laughable, despite there being a terrible ‘bad guy’ named Herod whose authoritarian regime makes life hazardous for the Nazarenes.

Joy to the World opens November 28 and runs through December 21.

New comedy

On Thursday, November 20, Festival of Creative Arts will open at Alliance Francaise in a new comedy called Consequences. Directed by Andrew Muthure (who we’re happy to see back in the director’s seat) and Veronica Waceke, Consequences is yet another outrageous romp about infidelity and the mayhem that ensues when a “blissful marriage” is shattered by “deceit, false identity and cover-up.”

The cast includes Xavier Nato, Umi Rajab, Godfrey Odhiambo, Melissa Kiplagat, Veronica Waceke and Andrew Muthure.

Nairobi audiences seem to love FCA’s fast-action farcical tales and Consequences is likely to be just as popular as all their previous comedies have been.
As it’s only at Alliance for one weekend, through the 23, fans would be wise to book their seats right now.

Finally, Rogers Otieno got his start on the Nairobi stage with The Theatre Company, but since he moved on we’ve discovered he’s good as a director as well as an actor.

And with his latest autobiographical script, My Moving Home, which premieres at the Italian Institute of Culture December 6, he will also prove whether he’s as adept at playwriting as he is at acting.

His play runs for two nights, through December 7, but if the show’s a success we’re bound to see it revived next year.