“Dreaming Zenzile, Based on the Life of Miriam Makera,” runs Sept. 10 to Oct. 3 at The Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts.


The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (The Rep) is set to launch its 2021-22 live theater season with the world premiere production of “Dreaming Zenzile, Based on the life of Miriam Makeba.”

Written and performed by Grammy-nominated international music sensation Somi Kakoma, the production runs Sept. 10 to Oct. 3 at The Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts, 130 Edgar Road in Webster Groves.

“Dreaming Zenzile, Based on the life of Miriam Makeba,” includes a live jazz band playing original music and reinterpretations of Makeba’s remarkable catalog. 

The initial production and world premiere scheduled for April 2020 at The Rep was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“As the daughter of Rwandan and Ugandan immigrants, this show is personal because Miriam Makeba paved the way for artists like me,” said Somi. “This work is about uplifting her legacy as a conscious revolutionary who brought Africa to the world’s center stage.”

Somi, who wrote and stars in the musical, takes the audience to Makeba’s final performance where she raises the conscience and the consciousness of a people. The ancestors are calling – transporting her through the music and fractured memories of her past on a spiritual journey of reconciliation. 

Born in Johannesburg in 1932, Makeba called attention to apartheid in South Africa, where the white-led government forced racial segregation from 1948 to 1991. In 1968, Makeba married Black Panther and Civil Rights activist Stokely Carmichael and soon fell out of favor in the United States.

“It is an incredible gift to open our season with Somi’s incomparable  portrayal of the beauty and complexity of Miriam Makeba’s journey.” said Hana S. Sharif, Augustin Family Artistic Director at The Rep. “I am delighted that St. Louis audiences will be the first to experience this stunning production after 18 months of anticipation. It is a great joy to work with my colleagues across the country to support the launch of ‘Dreaming Zenzile.’”