Oliva Tweest was ground-breaking when it debuted as the UKs first Afrobeats musical in 2013.
Since then the African-born, global genre has grown in popularity to become increasingly more known on the mainstream, being hailed by BBC Radio as the sound of the summer for 2018.
Happy Monday! @BBCRadio4 discusses the rise of Afrobeats.
— Oliva Tweest: The AfroMusical (@OlivaTMusical) 4 June 2018
And with the multi-award-winning Broadway Hip-Hop musical, Hamilton rewriting traditional views of a West End musical, Oliva Tweest creator, Yinka Ayinde (stage name: PureYinkz), felt the time was right to revive the show.
“The theatre industry has been looking for this mythical ‘new audience’ but we are going to show them that the people are out there,” he says. “I’ve developed this show to bring two worlds together – introducing a traditional theatre audience to the Afrobeats culture, and filling up theatres with young, energetic Afrobeats fans.”
Indeed, the audience was out there when Yinka first opened the show at London’s Lyric theatre. Following a sell-out run in 2013, the musical enjoyed a short-run at the legendary Hackney Empire in 2014, a one-off special at the 2016 Lagos Theatre Festival, supported by British Council, and a week-long development residency at The Barbican.
The story follows the ambitions of London hustler and club-promoter Tobi, who has no problem winning female attention, but yearns to shake off his shady reputation and move up in the world. Driven by his need to succeed, he plans the ultimate concert to attract his idol and Afrobeats legend D’Banj, naming it after the musician’s global hit ‘Oliver Twist.’ But when he finds out that the landlord of his chosen concert venue intends to convert the building into a church, Tobi is forced to disguise his true intentions.
It’s a universal tale of love versus ambition and this revival includes new songs specially written for the musical as well as renditions of some of the biggest Afrobeats hits from the likes of D’banj, Wizkid, Maleek Berry, Afro B and Tiwa Savage.
“It’s a dream come true for me to see the show going on tour,” says Yinka. “We have been given so much support and encouragement to get to this point. It will be the first time showcasing the fully developed Afrobeats show and we’ll be working with the same partners as ‘Motown The Musical’, ‘Matilda’ and ‘Wicked’ so I am excited about what happens next.”