The life of Nelson Mandela and the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be blended in an epic musical that will open in Cape Town on Freedom Day (April 27, 2014), said the creator of the show, Richard Montez.
While the two hour song and dance and drama production, Madiba — The Musical, will touch on some weighty and sensitive topics it is not a documentary but entertainment said the American Christian theatre company managing director who has directed more than 500 shows in 71 countries over the past 26 years.
During an interview with Gateway News this week Montez said he was asked to do a show on the story of Nelson Mandela last year by Pastors Neville and Wendy McDonald from Good Hope Christian Centre in Cape Town after he did an Easter production there. Mandela was still alive at the time.
“I prayed about it [the proposed Mandela production] and I really felt this was what the Lord wanted me to do,” he said.
His biggest struggle with taking on the production was that Mandela was not a Christian, as far as he was aware. However, the more he researched the life of Mandela, the more he discovered that he had a strong Christian upbringing which he believes helped to forge the man he later became. His mother was a devout Christian, he went to Methodist schools and even led Bible studies as a young man.
“I don’t believe he [Mandela] was a Christian but he used Biblical principles to help bring healing and reconciliation at a time when South Africa was on the brink of civil way,” said Montez.
He said through its original script and songs and dance routines featuring 40 to 50 actors the production will deliver a message of forgiveness and reconciliation and the power of the cross.
“I think it is going to be a powerful message for all of South Africa,” he said.
The former Disneyland singer, dancer and choreographer and professional stage, film and television actor, established Cornerstone Theatre 26 years ago with a vision to bring quality productions and artistic training to churches throughout the world.
“And I have discovered that if you invite people to come to church many of them will never come. But what is so interesting is the very same people that say ‘no’ to church are the very same ones that say ‘yes’ to theatre. They love to go to a theatre to be entertained and they want some kind of moral values, but they just don’t want to be hit over the head with a bible. So I want to do something that will bring the Gospel to a lot of people that would not normally come to church and this is a great way to do it.”
Montez has been presenting shows in South Africa in association with local churches since 2002. He has done a wide variety of comedies, musicals and dramas in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban. He says all of his shows have something in common — they all point to Jesus Christ.
He says the Good Hope Christian Centre is still finalising a venue for the Mandela production but that people can find out details by keeping in touch with the church.
He hopes to take the show to other centres in SA and to other nations. He says Pastor Wendy McDonald said one of the reasons why they asked him, an American, to do the show was because they wanted it to be geared not only to South Africans but to a world audience.
View a video preview of Madiba — The Musical: