Gerald Langiri
December 04 / 2013

I was cordially invited to attend the premier (on 3rd Dec 2013 at the National Museum) of what looks like a daring step in the fusion world of music and acting. Some few years ago, both the music and acting industries were worlds apart and maybe one would describe them as competing entities albeit being in the same entertainment industry and both can be referred to as Art.

There came music videos which incorporated storytelling in them and this lead to actors getting involved in the music world. That however is now paving way to a much bigger genre of art not very much rampant in Kenya but that is slowly changing: Musicals.

Seen on stage with their Easter and Christmas village musicals, Kijiji Entertainment is turning what were once dream performances in front of friends and family to what may be described as "Kenya’s own Glee" series, The groove theory.

 Groove theory cast

This is a TV series revolving around the lives of 5 talented students at Victoria University, one of the finest Universities in the Great Lakes region. Groove theory is the story of Zamm(played Kevin Maina), a member of the prestigious Victoria University Campus choir, along with his friend Guy (played by Pascal Lpesinoi Tokodi) and his girlfriend Bisquit(played by Patricia Kihoro) a student at a university where the music and arts department is forcefully given a back seat.

Kevin Maina -Groove theory
Kevin Maina as Zamm

Patricia Kihoro Groove Theory
Patricia Kihoro as Biscuit

Zamm finds plenty of obstacles in his way as he tries to put together the band, including the choir master himself (Mr Bori played by Peter King), a stubborn Dean of students (played by Julisa Rowe), lack of instruments, Zamm’s nosy younger sister (Clarinet- played by Charity Nyambura), and the generational pressure from his traditionalist father, who is a member of the board, and proud supporter of the choir’s heritage.

Julisa Rowe and Peter King Groove Theory
Julisa Rowe and Peter King

But when Zamm teams up with a talented geek called Ledama(played Elsaphan Njora), the band gets a taste of the future, and even harder challenges, some even life-threatening, affecting all his relationships.

Can Zamm realize his dream, and still keep his girlfriend? Can they break out of the system, or are they the ones who need to change? Will the revolution be televised?

As classrooms swivel to become courtyards and cafeterias slide aside to reveal offices and hostel rooms, the drama of Groove Theory, the first show of its kind in East Africa, brings to Kenyan TV a show that combines music and drama on one stage in a classic musical series.

Groove theory class

Groove Theory, a 12-part series, first part showcased on November 20, 2013 on ZUKU TV, showcases the story of Zamm who is striving to cut a niche for himself in a university that seems not to be supportive of his musical talent .

For an industry that is dominated by telenovelas and West African dramas, the musical comes at a time when the industry is being spurred on to deliver local programmes to spur growth in the country’s nascent TV and film production industry, and compete internationally.

“With Groove Theory we hope to contribute to the increase of local content in the market and at the same time provide Kenyans with entertainment that speaks to them and that they can relate to,” said Mwendwa of Kijiji Entertainment on the birth of the new show.

The journey to realizing the show has taken a full 8 years, from its first inspiration, driven by passion and dedication. But from Kijiji Entertainment’s first concept, and onto the partnering with Zuku Pay TV channel, it has brought a new genre to Kenyan TV.

The show sees a dedicated team of 75 people, as cast and crew, Shot over a period of two weeks, the show combines both stage and screen elements to give audiences a sensory performance experience.

Groove Theory cast2

The show features well known names such as Patricia Kihoro, who stars in a leading role as Bisquit Zamm's girlfriend. Other well known names include Peter King (Professor Bori), Kevin Maina of Makmende fame, Kevin Samuel, Elsaphan Njora among others.

The writing team is made up of Tina Banja, Mugambi Nthiga, Yafesi Musoke and experienced playright Seth Busolo. The series also boasts of having written and performed 40 songs and at the end of the screening of each episode, the songs will be available to you for digital download as explay ined bKanji Mbugua during his speech. There will be hit cover songs in each episode that have been released by well known Kenyan musicians like Jaguar, Madtraxx, Octopizzo among others.

The 12-episode drama, directed by Amira Tajdin will run every Wednesday at 8:00pm on Zuku Africa Channel 100.

Watch the trailer below:

Reported by Gerald Langiri

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