It’s been nearly ten years since Tim Omaji first rose to fame as a finalist in So You Think You Can Dance – better known to his fans as “Timomatic”. The following year Omaji set his sights on musical theatre, with a role in Fame.
“From Fame I pretty much just dove straight into the commercial music world and that’s been great,” said Omaji.
“It’s been a bit of a crazy ride from that time onwards. I had the incredible pleasure of playing Benny in In The Heights – which was a great musical to be a part of. So Madiba is my second musical for the year. It’s a bit of a year of theatre!”
While Fame and In The Heights required considerable dance skills, Madiba is different.
“This one is definitely more story-driven … and what a prominent story, and impact of life, to tell the story of Nelson and what he did. So I’m excited!” exclaimed Omaji, who said he chose musicals that would challenge him and move him out of his comfort zone.
Unlike Fame and In The Heights, there is no English recording of Madiba the Musical – the original production was performed in French. This is the premiere English language production.
“I love being part of it and really setting the tone of what people see the show to be.”
Omaji describes Madiba the Musical as not necessarily a biopic of the life of Nelson Mandela, but rather stories created from that time of apartheid that Mandela so fought to oppose.
“It’s a celebration of what he did. My character is not necessarily biographical. My arc is being in an interracial relationship in the time of apartheid – being with a white women and all the issues that come with that time. So it’s really a snapshot of that time in the ’70s in South Africa … and how Nelson lead people out of that,” Omaji explained.
Tim Omaji grew up hearing the story of Nelson Mandela. Omaji was born in Nigeria, but moved to Australia when he was just ten months old. He’s been back to visit Nigeria twice, although said he’s probably due for a return visit.
“It’s a completely different world, but a very vibrant and beautiful place,” said Omaji.
Joining Tim Omaji in Madiba is a strong cast of predominantly African-Australians.
“I’ve got a very strong passion for African-Australians really getting out there and representing our culture – and so this is really special, with the cast being predominantly African-Australian.”
Most importantly, Madiba tells a story, and this is what has drawn Tim Omaji back to musical theatre.
“It wasn’t that long ago that apartheid got abolished in South Africa. I think Nelson’s story has got to be told again and again. I think the thing that draws me to musicals is the ability to transform, and for people to see you in a completely light, and to tell a story.”
There’s just one more bucket-list musical for Tim “Timomatic” Omaji.
“There’s only one more musical that I would see myself doing in the near future if it comes here and that would be Hamilton. If I ticked that off the list then I think I’d be good for a bit!”
Madiba the Musical is now playing at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne’s East End Theatre District for a limited season before a national tour.
For more information and tickets: https://madibamusical.com.au/