Nigerian musical Wakaa! targets Broadway after successful London stint

Wakaa! explores themes including emigration of young Nigerians. U.S. and British universities are very popular with Nigerian students, who often look abroad for better economic opportunities. Credit: Jermaine Sanwoolu/

As the curtain falls on the first Nigerian musical to make the leap to a London theater, its executive producer is setting her sights higher still.

Following a successful five-day stint in the English capital, Bolanle Austen-Peters wants to take Wakaa! The Musical across the pond to rub shoulders with the greats in New York’s world-renowned theaterland.

“Why not? If we’re here in London, who says we can’t go to America,” says Austen-Peters, speaking ahead of Wakaa!’s closing night at the Shaw Theater on Euston Road, off London’s West End.

It was a bold enough move bringing the show to London. Despite reportedly playing to 10,000 people over 12 shows in Lagos, Nigeria’s economic hub, earlier in 2016, Austen-Peters recounts how she was told by a London-based PR firm that she was overestimating interest among the diaspora and British citizens by booking the 446-capacity Shaw Theater. “[The PR firm] said: ‘Please can you go and get a refund, because you’ll be lucky if you get 50 people,’” says Austen-Peters.

Despite such doubters, Wakaa! sold out all of its seven shows across the five days it has been running in London—the theater announcer claimed on the final night that last-minute hopefuls were waiting outside the theater to purchase any spare tickets for up to £200 ($262). Austen-Peters says that the team have been so overwhelmed by the demand that they are considering bringing the show back for a longer stint in London.

Read more: Nigerian Musical Targets Broadway After Successful London Stint