The two young women on stage have very different ideas about what it feels like to become a woman. For some it is a moment of sexual excitement - for others it is a moment of unbridled pain. They sing a song that sounds the same, with different words, a different story.
The touching scene is one of the key moments in the musical adaptation of the bestseller "Desert Flower", which celebrated its German premiere on Thursday evening at the Deutsches Theater in Munich. In it, Waris Dirie (Kerry Jean) tells her friend Marilyn (Denis Lucia Aquino) about the cruel ritual of female circumcision, of which she was a victim as a child in her homeland of Somalia.
Tough material for a musical
The moving story of the bestseller "Desert Flower", written by women's rights activist and top model Waris Dirie (57), also touches and inspires as musical theater. The audience celebrates the singers, dancers and the creative team around composer Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen, and especially the woman whose story comes to the stage that evening.
Somali-born Dirie, who has been fighting against the cruel female genital mutilation for decades, will also appear on stage and later be celebrated at the premiere party.
Thomas Linsmayer had already admitted at the beginning that the project was also a risk according to the motto "Can you make a musical theater out of material like this that entertains people?" The premiere showed that it was absolutely successful, he said afterwards. He hopes that the theater will continue to be able to “bring plays with such relevance here.”
An emotional journey to the catwalks of the world
The story has everything: "It has laughter, tears, drama. It's a female empowerment story that ends well," Fahrenkrog-Petersen said before the premiere and spoke of "a real Cinderella story." "But after that she didn't move into the castle with a prince, but said: Now I have to go back and save the others too."
He turned out to be right with his assessment on Thursday. In Gil Mehmert's production, Dirie's emotional journey from the Somali desert to London and from there to the catwalks of the world is supported by an effective stage design, modern and expressive choreographies for a musical, colorful costumes and highly emotional performances by the singers - all of them led by Jean in the lead role.
The second audience favorite of the evening is Joachim Kaiser from Udo Lindenberg's Panikorchester in the role of Dirie's Irish fake husband, who inspires the audience with great and surprising emotions.
Before the premiere at the Deutsches Theater, the musical had already been staged in St. Gallen, Switzerland. “Wüstenblume” will be shown in Munich for two weeks, then it will go on a European tour.
“Times are changing, even in musicals,” Fahrenkrog-Petersen emphasized when presenting the musical project - and with reference to classics like “Starlight Express” or “Cats” added: “The era of roller-skating, singing cats is over." Audiences now also want more in musical theater: “People long for meaning, for inspiration, for a connection to reality, even in entertainment.”