Discover what critics have had to say about this new musical based on the life of Nelson Mandela.

Credit and copyright: Helen Murray

Broadway World: *** “Ultimately, though, it’s the numbers from the brothers Borowsky that make this production what it is, for better and worse. There are some phenomenally powerful songs, not least the title tune and “Fight Fire With Fire”, many of which are West End-ready. Having the story largely sung-through with songs of this calibre makes things flow but we can see American audiences hankering for more exposition. There are, though, occasions when the melodies are too melodramatic and we’re sheep-dipped in sentimentality.”

The Guardian: ** “The central performances are as strong as they can be given the material, and both Fiamanya and Luwoye’s voices brim with power, as do those of the chorus. But that is simply not enough and this feels like a thoroughly missed opportunity.”

Evening Standard: **** “This musical biopic of South Africa’s great unifying leader is a storming celebration of the human spirit and the human voice. It’s not easy to portray a secular saint on stage – especially if you’re working “in proud partnership” with his family – but the creators manage it, and Broadway star Michael Luwoye brings force and charisma to the part.”

WhatsOnStage: *** “For all its flaws, it’s an enjoyable evening, full of good performances, and an emotional reminder of what a deeply held belief in people’s capacity for change and forgiveness can achieve.”

Credit and copyright: Helen Murray

The Arts Desk: ** “But these fleeting moments of choreographic zest, supported by Jon Clark’s densely coloured lighting and Paul Gatehouse’s rousing sound design, are not enough to salvage this deeply puzzling piece. Virtually all is caricature here, and nothing that happens on stage lands with any real force.”

The Telegraph: *** ” Schele Williams’s production thrillingly connects us to a world of churning hope, despair – and rage. The perplexing frustration is that the Borowksys keep slowing the momentum with a surfeit of samey ballads of generic plaintiveness. Laiona Michelle’s book oddly places too much emphasis on the pangs of domestic separation and too little on political and biographical nitty-gritty.”

London ** “I can’t be the only playgoer who would be interested in what followed in the wake of a figure whose footprint remains singular to this day, rather than a by-the-book rehash that settles for the obvious at every turn, as if neither politics nor the theatre have moved on since the era on view. There’s no denying the commitment to a ceaselessly important cause that courses through Mandela, but the show in its present form aims to soar only to feel artistically stillborn.”

The Reviews Hub: *** “When the show taps fully into the story’s African roots, it flourishes, but, when it drifts towards the style of conventional musical theatre, it flounders. In all it is a frustrating mix of the thrilling and the bland.”

Credit and copyright: Helen Murray

Time Out: ** “But it just seems like such a monumental missed opportunity: Mandela had a fascinating and inspirational life, but the musical that bears his name frequently seems barely interested in it. And it’s troubling that it seems to go to such great pains to advocate for Winnie, who was, at best, a deeply problematic figure. With the artistry on display, it could have been a fairly corny, fairly generic journey through the highlights of Mandela’s life and times and still been perfectly fine. Instead it’s a singularly inadequate tribute to one of the great humans of our time.”

Culture Whisper: **** “Mandela is a moving and impassioned study of the most trying period in the great freedom fighter’s extraordinary history.”

The Stage: *** “This new musical starring Michael Luwoye falls short of doing its subject justice, but impresses with rousing performances.”

For more information and to book tickets visit:


%d bloggers like this: