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.