How to create musicals about sad stories? Jean-Pierre Hadiba knows how

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We spoke with Jean-Pierre Hadida, creator of Madiba The Musical. We published the first part of the interview 2 days ago. Here’s the second part of that interview.

Is it the first time that one of your musicals  has been adapted into English or played in Australia?

No, it’s the first time I’ve been in Australia. It’s also the first time one of my shows will be played in English. I’ve written other shows before, one which was successful in Paris, which was an homage to Anne Frank. I wrote an English version but for the moment, it’s in boxes. I need to take time to meet people to see about putting it on.  I’d like to have it play in London, New York or an Anglo-Saxon country, and in Australia too.

I also want to see what happens with Madiba The Musical and if it will allow us to meet people for Anne Frank. In any event, it’s true that once you’ve tasted the international arena, it’s a wonderful experience.

I wanted to ask you about Anne Frank. Her story is quite sad. How do you make a musical from something so sad?


You know what is was about Anne Frank is that  it is quite recent and overwhelming. However I remind you that of one of the biggest musicals which has been successful in London is Les Misérables. It’s a story which is extremely sad and I would say at the time was a musical tragedy – I don’t find that a beautiful expression. Precisely, I find that Anne Frank, with music which is a universal language, speaks to all generations. With Anne Frank, it’s important to remind young people who may not know the story even if we studied it at school. Anne Frank was a very happy teenager, who loved to sing, to dance, who was full of energy and full of mischief. I wanted to tell, through music, the story of a teenager who would become a woman and who found herself in this life that she hadn’t chosen, suddenly, because she was locked up and hidden because she was born a Jew.


I wanted to tell the story of her relationship with her Mum, her Dad and her sister. So all this little comedy wrapped up like that. There are a lot of emotions. What’s terrible is that we know the end. And that it’s a story, in which there is a tension from the beginning and the end even if there are moments of happiness, exchange, little loves, because there was a young man with whom Anne Frank had a love story. All of that inspired me and so we  created a very intimate work in contrast to Madiba which is something festive and glorifying. Here, we are in something which is much more intimate – we play it with just a piano and a cello. But it asks the same questions as Madiba in the end – which are tolerance, injustice, the cruelty of humans but also in the case of Madiba which has a happy end. We know that in Anne Frank there’s a universal message – she wrote that man was good in the end – I don’t know if she would have written that if she had known her end.

But there you go, there are a lot of feelings, emotions and I wanted to turn that into a musical. That doesn’t prevent there from being moments in which we smile, we laugh, songs where you listen to the radio and she is looking at movie stars. It also allowed me to have a quite touching backdrop, and even happy. But there you go, it’s a show which allowed me to play to a lot of people, to get moving, and it’s always a pleasure to delivery a message to young people because it really is a way of transmitting values which are dear to us.


Is there anything else you’d like to tell me about Madiba the Musical?

Yes. Nelson Mandela’s grandson, who is called Dhaba Mandela, came to see the show in Paris, by surprise. We were a little nervous; he said to us “I really had the impression that I was looking at my grandfather on stage”. He was really touched  by the show and has since come back to see it a few times and he is going to come to Australia to spend three or four days with us. And that’s wonderful. He is a gentleman who is about 35 years old, who has a lot of charisma and who has a foundation called Africa Rising and we are all working together to help him advance with that. For us, it’s an incredible credit that shows that our show is both entertainment but also serious as it speaks about real things and we are in reality.

Otherwise, there are so many things that have happened with this show over 3 years that we could spend hours together!

How long did Madiba The Musical play in Paris for?

it played in Paris from January to April and then it did a tour of the French big cities. In the month of April 2008, we had three special performances at Olympia and it was sold out. Completely sold out!


And that’s not easy to do!


No, it’s not easy. At the beginning we were a small team – we aren’t produeced by a major company, as they say, So it was word of mouth. People like you who supported us, who passed on the message. We are very thankful. In Paris we also had a good season because the Minister for Education came along as did the Minister for Overseas Territories. So we had well-known people who came along to support us because it is about a magnificent subject, that of Nelson Mandela, a provincial man – I think that he was one of the last great men of that period. So there you go, we have a subject which is extremely inspiring and I am very happy to have worked on it because there are so many strong values associated with it. And one of his cult phrases was “it’s impossible just until you do it”. So it was a little bit of motto at the beginning.

And it was publicly known events already written in the history books that you included in Madiba THe Musical or did you have to do research?


It’s true that I must have read his famous biography called “Long Way to Freedom” in all the senses and then I had to close it and forget it. But it comes back, all the big moments in his life are played out in the story, We especially wrote that and also included a creative part which is the love story between Will and Nena, between her father the Head of Police, between Sam and Sandy, a few militants. So there are all these characters that we have created who may have existed and we have mixed them into Nelson Mandela’s story.

You can see Madiba The Musical” in Perth from 2 to 12 January and in Adelaide from 17 to 20 January. Tickets cost between $49 and $109 plus booking fees.


Perth tickets are available here

Adelaide tickets are available here:

You can also find more information about the show here:


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