The most-searched-for musicals in Kenya, online, are High School Musical, The Lion King and Hamilton, respectively. This is according to a recent report by TicketSource.

The research findings, released on 3rd November 2019, cover the entire globe. They are available as data and as a map indicating the top-searched musical in each country. The data was gathered from Google Trends and Adwords over the past 15 years. Further, the researchers used an ‘index scoring system’ to rank the top three most-searched-for musicals in each country. Eventually, they split the winners by continent. As a result of the methodology used, Western musicals dominate virtually every country. Some of the shows have never been staged in the nations they top. However, a show can garner interest in a country where it is yet to debut – if it has a lot of mainstream media ‘buzz’ around it, for instance.

Tinga Tinga Tales

A scene from Tinga Tinga Tales. Image by Tinga Rain Productions.


It is noteworthy that none of the Broadway/West End blockbusters that have been performed here in Kenya over the last 15 years made the top 3 of the TicketSource rankings. These include imports such as Jesus Christ Superstar, Annie, Les Miserablés, Aladdin, Grease the Musical and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in addition to indigenous productions such as Mo Faya: The Musical, Tinga Tinga Tales or Ondieki the Opera. Tinga Tinga Tales, helmed by Afro-fusion singer/songwriter Eric Wainiana, is arguably the most successful homegrown musical. Apart from multiple runs in Kenya, it was staged in New Victory Theater in New York City, USA. Between 2018 and 2019, the Nairobi Performance Arts Studio (NPAS), steered by Briton Stuart Nash, staged Sarafina! in Nairobi and Nakuru towns. NPAS’s promotional efforts were admirable and ranged from casting well-known ‘names’ in the entertainment scene to unleashing a flash mob on the streets of Nakuru!

Still the King

According to the TicketSource results, the most-searched musicals globally are The Lion King, High School Musical and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock. Lin-Manual Miranda’s highly-touted Hamilton comes in at Number 12. Inspired by the book Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, Hamilton has won 11 Tony Awards and spawned a fast-selling music album.


A scene from the phenomenally successful Hamilton. Photo by Joan Marcus.


Below are the top three most-searched-for musicals in African nations:


Algeria – Notre-Dame de Paris,   High School Musical, Les Misérables

Angola – Evita,  Les Misérables, The Lion King

Benin – Les Misérables, Hamilton, A Chrous Line

Botswana – High School Musical, School of Rock, Rock of Ages

Burkina Faso –    Hamilton, Cinderella, Sunset Boulevard

Burundi – Oklahoma!,    The King and I,  King Kong

Cameroon – Bella: An American Tale,  School of Rock, Rock of Ages

Cape Verde – Be More Chill, The Lion King, Tina Turner: The Musical

Central African Republic – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Gypsy: The Musical, Cabaret

Chad – Hamilton, Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera

Comoros – Legally Blonde, Cats, Hairspray

Congo – Notre-Dame de Paris, Jesus Christ Superstar, Kinki Boots

Côte d’Ivoire- Notre-Dame de Paris, Jesus Christ Superstar, Les Misérables

Democratic Republic of Congo  –              –              –

Djibouti – Rock of Ages, Stomp, We Will Rock You: The Musical

Egypt – High School Musical, Shrek: The Musical, Wicked

Equatorial Guinea – Oliver!, Jesus Christ Superstar, Sister Act: The Musical

Eritrea  – Evita, School of Rock, Chicago

Eswatini – The Percy Jackson Musical, The Lion King, Jesus Christ Superstar

Ethiopia – Once: The Musical, Hamilton, Oliver!

Gabon – Madiba: The Musical, 1776: The Musical, Wizard of Oz

Gambia – Crazy for You: The Musical, Miss Saigon, Rent

Ghana – High School Musical, The Lion King, School of Rock

Guinea – Cats, Hamilton, Miss Saigon

Guinea-Bissau – Newsies, Jesus Christ Superstar, Notre-Dame de Paris

Kenya – High School Musical, The Lion King, Hamilton

Lesotho – High School Musical, Rock of Ages, Cinderella

Liberia – Wicked, Once on This Island, The Drowsy Chaperone

Libya – School of Rock, Rock of Ages, Peter Pan: The Musical

Madagascar – High School Musical, Notre-Dame de Paris, Peter Pan: The Musical

Malawi – School of Rock, Rock of Ages, Les Misérables

Mali  – Hamilton, Grease, Cinderella

Mauritania – Wicked, Carrie: The Musical, The Producers

Mauritius – Notre-Dame de Paris, The Lion King, School of Rock

Morocco  – Notre-Dame de Paris, High School Musical, Les Misérables

Mozambique – Evita, School of Rock, Rock of Ages

Namibia – The Sound of Music, Cats, School of Rock

Niger – Les Misérables,   Green Day: The Musical, Oklahoma!

Nigeria – High School Musical, Saro: The Musical, Wakaa: The Musical

Rwanda – School of Rock, Hamilton, Evita

Senegal  – Les Misérables, Spring Awakening, Heathers: The Musical

Seychelles – School of Rock, The Book of Mormon, My Fair Lady

Sierra Leone – My Fair Lady, Legally Blonde, Oklahoma!

Somalia  – The Fantasticks, Mary Poppins, A Bronx Tale

South Africa – Chicago, Matilda: The Musical, High School Musical

South Sudan      –              –              –

Sudan  –              –              –

Tanzania – High School, Musical School of Rock, Rock of Ages

Togo – The Lion King, Kinki Boots, Jesus Christ Superstar

Tunisia – Notre-Dame de Paris, High School Musical, Romeo and Juliet

Uganda – High School Musical, School of Rock, Rock of Ages

Western Sahara                –              –              –

Zambia – School of Rock, Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ Superstar

Zimbabwe – School of Rock, Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ Superstar


African Musicals

African-oriented shows that made the list above include Saro: The Musical, Wakaa: The Musical and Madiba: The Musical. The latter is about the famed South African freedom fighter and president Nelson Mandela. It covers his inspirational journey from a 27-year prison stretch to the presidency of post-apartheid South Africa. Australia’s Theatre People has described it as, “Robust, bold, and strikingly tight movement across the board.”  Incidentally, Mandela’s first wife, the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, also has a celebrated musical dedicated to her life, titled Winnie the Opera.

Data from a few countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo and the two Sudans, was unavailable.

This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.

This post was written by Alexander Nderitu.

The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.