Reviews & Profiles
A thrilling musical
Posted Saturday, March 2 2013 at 02:00
Wow! for the sum of its parts making AMK Production’s Music and Me—The Pearl’s Voice better than your average music concert featuring computer-aided musicians who can’t sing, and better than any Eagles-AfriBakka collaboration where actors and musicians never really merge seamlessly.
Setting the Theatre La Bonita show in the mold of musical shows like Idols and The Voice was an honest move. It was also a stroke of genius, for with it plot was set (last four of a competition), characterization (Big-Brother House for musicians vying for the Shs400m prize money), believable plot twists (judges conniving with or being conned into voting unworthy artistes, wildcard entries), and best of all, the music.
Bar the gaudy stage with its French-flag theme, character slips like “This is a cheque for Shs10m, cash”, bars where characters could hide in plain sight, and slip-ups like the keyboard and singers being out of sync on Michael Bolton’s To Love a woman, everything else was a marvel you had to see or hear to believe.
The transformation of Brenda Nannono (Judith Nassuuna) from a Nakawunde-like wildcard entry being timid on Lee Ann Rimes’ How do i live, into a commanding, alluring presence doing Alicia Keys’ This Girl Is On Fire was awe-inspiring, both musically and dramatically.
She captivated with Christina Aguilera’s You are beautiful when her nemesis Faith Nakimuli (Masika Jacinta), tried bullying her out of the competition. When her boyfriend/manager cut a deal with a sleazy MC to force her out of the contest, her rendition of Whitney Houston’s I will always love you was both believably heartrending and musically on point.
She was sweet and lusty on Sean Paul’s I’m still in love with you, reaching and sustaining that bothersome last note from the Phantom of the Opera song Sing For Me, and note-perfect on Adele’s Someone like you.
The audience’s emotions belonged to her, but so polished was the pedigree of other performers that it never looked like she outclassed them. Meddie Kasoma’s drone during the male quartet’s rendition of Cindy Lauper’s Time after time is one of those experiences that stays with you years after show ends.
Mike Kawalya proved by works how and why he is the leader of X-Zone International, the musical’s dancers.
His backslide during Michael Jackson’s Man in the mirror literally upstaged the singing half of the number. Their lift sequence on Azonto, in which a girl lifted a boy, was just another one of their many magical contributions to the show.
Even audience-pandering gimmicks like Luganda remixes on P-Square’s Chop Ma’ Money and inserting Bad Black into Faith’s version of Travie McCoy’s Billionaire worked well.
The musical’s romantic pair, Brian Asiimwe and Lynn Abarungi , were sublime in their joint appearances as Fire.
At this rate, AMK’s productions run the risk of becoming fertile hunting ground for talent scouts.