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Brief Encounter With ... Umoja's Todd Twala

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South African song and dance show Umoja is returning to the West End tonight (1 February 2012), nearly ten years since it was last seen in the capital.

Whatsonstage.com caught up with Todd Twala, one of the show’s creators, to find out more about the show and how it feels to be back in the UK.

How does it feel to be bringing Umoja back to London?
It is the greatest achievement to go back to where we started, following the great success of Umoja 12 years ago.

Has the show changed much since it was last here, in 2003?
Yes we have a few changes to the songs and dances because there are so many South African songs and rhythms to be shown to the world.

How did Umoja first come about?
Umoja started as a project in 1983 to help the under-privileged youth of South Africa and to give the children of the streets a chance to change their lives.

Were you surprised by its success?
It was a great surprise because when you start a show you expect success, but when it happens in such a big way yes it’s a very pleasant surprise.

What are your memories of the first West End run?
I’ll never forget seeing Umoja’s name outside the Shaftesbury Theatre, and the sheer numbers of people who came to see us during that run. I’ll never forget that.

What does 'Umoja' mean?
Umoja means ‘unity’ or ‘togetherness’ in Swahili, and that’s exactly what the show is about.

For people who don't know the show, what can they expect?
They must expect a joyous trip of soul music and dances that will make your soul jump with joy, and drumbeats that your heart will never forget.

What are your plans for it after finishing in London, will you continue to tour?
After London the tours go on to Canada, Russia, the USA - and the invitations are still coming in because the world just loves Umoja!


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