Recommended Theater: NOLLYWOOD DREAMS (San Francisco Playhouse)

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by Tony Frankel on October 2, 2023

in Theater-San Francisco / Bay Area

San Francisco Playhouse has begun its 2023-24 Season with the West Coast Premiere of the romantic comedy Nollywood Dreams, directed by Bay Area theatre veteran Margo Hall. Written by Ghanaian-American writer/performer Jocelyn Bioh (Jaja’s African Hair Braiding now playing on Broadway, School Girls; Or the African Mean Girls Play and the book of the musical Goddess), this hilarious play with sharp wit and big heart spotlights the 1990s explosion of Nigeria’s film industry Nollywood, which churned out films as the country contended with economic and political turmoil. Aspiring ingenue Ayamma yearns for the glitz and glamor of movie stardom, landing an audition with Nollywood’s hottest director seeking a fresh face. Between cat fights with the resident diva, igniting sparks with Nigeria’s “Sexiest Man Born,” and talk show appearances with the Oprah of Lagos, Ayamma’s dreams of leaving her travel agency job behind for a thrilling life might just come true.

photos by Jessica Palopoli

Nollywood Dreams
San Francisco Playhouse at Kensington Park Hotel, 450 Post Street
Tues-Thurs at 7, Fri at 8; Sat at 3 & 8; Sun at 2
ends on November 4, 2023
for tickets, call 415-677-9596 or visit SF Playhouse

Premiering at MCC Theater Off-Broadway, Nollywood Dreams was spotlighted on The Kilroys’ List of notable new works. Variety praised Bioh’s “fast-moving comic text,” calling it “warm, wonky, and laugh-out-loud funny…this version of Nollywood is, indeed, a dream.”

San Francisco Playhouse has assembled a terrific cast.

Angel Adedokun makes her Playhouse debut as Ayamma Okafor, an aspiring actor with big dreams who works at her parents’ travel agency. Recognized as Theatre Bay Area (TBA) and RHE Charitable Foundation’s 2022 RHE Foundation Artistic Fellow, Adedokun won a TBA Award for her performance in The Oasis’ Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Once More with Feeling. She has performed with Shotgun Players, African-American Shakespeare Company, American Conservatory Theater, Bay Area Children’s Theatre, New Conservatory Theatre Center, PlayGround, Berkeley Playhouse, Ray of Light Theatre, SF Sketchfest, and in a reading at Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Ground Floor. She released her debut EP “Love Always, Angel” and is working on her next album “Love Letters to a Black Seed.”

Brittany Nicole Sims (she/her) makes her Playhouse debut as Dede Okafor, Ayamma’s pop culture-obsessed older sister. Brittany won the Shellie Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in ReproRights at B8 Theatre Company. She has also acted at New Conservatory Theatre Center, African-American Shakespeare Company, Contra Costa Civic Theatre, Central Works Theater Company, 6th Street Playhouse, The Custom Made Theatre Company, and Those Women Productions.

Tre’Vonne Bell debuts at San Francisco Playhouse as Gbenga Ezie, a rising Nigerian film director who returned to Nigeria after studying in America. Bell has also performed with Magic Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Aurora Theatre Company, Golden Thread Productions, and The Custom Made Theatre Company. Bell won a San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC) Award for their performance in Exit Strategy at Aurora Theatre Company.

Jordan Covington makes his Playhouse debut as Wale Owusu, Nigeria’s “Sexiest Man Born” who is a rising star in the world of Nollywood films. He has appeared in productions at Berkeley Playhouse, PlayGround, Theatre Rhinoceros, 3Girls Theatre, The Lower Bottom Playaz, New Canon Theatre Company, and I Can Do That! Performing Arts Center.

Seen in San Francisco Playhouse’s [hieroglyph], Anna Marie Sharpe returns to the Playhouse as Fayola Ogunleye, Nollywood’s beautiful resident diva known as “The Nigerian Halle Berry with Tina Turner Legs.” Sharpe’s theatre credits include roles with American Conservatory Theater and Aurora Theatre Company.

Tanika Baptiste makes her Playhouse debut as Adenikeh, the Nigerian version of Oprah Winfrey who is a talk show host that keeps up on all the Nollywood news. Baptiste is a SFBATCC Award-winning director, actor, vocalist, and costume designer who is part of TBA’s 2023 Arts Leadership cohort with Theatre Rhinoceros. She has performed with Magic Theatre, Center Repertory Company, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Berkeley Playhouse, Woodminster Summer Musicals, Oakland Theater Project, Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Mountain Play Association, Ross Valley Players, Pittsburg Theatre Company, Town Hall Theatre Company.


Nollywood Dreams features scenic design by Bill English, lighting design by Kevin Myrick, costume design by Jasmine Williams with costume consultant Nreiruka Oruche, projections design by Sarah Phykitt, videography by Adam Elder, properties design by Heidi Button, and sound design by Ray Archie. Jeunee Simon serves as intimacy coach and Sarah Selig is the stage manager.


Jocelyn Bioh (Playwright, she/her) is a Ghanaian-American writer and performer from New York City. Bioh’s plays include School Girls; Or The African Mean Girls PlayThe Ladykiller’s Love Story, Merry Wives, Happiness And JoeNollywood Dreams, and African Americans. She makes her Broadway playwrighting debut this Fall with Jaja’s African Hair Braiding, presented by Manhattan Theatre Club with producers including LaChanze and Taraji P. Henson. Bioh’s acting credits include work on Broadway as well as productions with Soho Rep, The Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Classical Theater of Harlem, Wilma Theater, and Signature Theater. Television writing credits include “She’s Gotta Have It” and “Russian Doll.”

Margo Hall (Director, she/her) is the Artistic Director of Lorraine Hansberry Theatre and an award-winning actor/director/playwright who has performed and directed in theatres throughout the Bay Area. She returns to San Francisco Playhouse, where she directed [hieroglyph], BarbecueRed Velvet, and The Story. Other directing credits include In the Evening by the Moonlight and Thurgood for Lorraine Hansberry Theatre; Friend of My Youth and Sonny’s Blues for Word for Word; and Brownsville Song, B-Side for Tray for Shotgun Players, where she also co- directed Bulrusher with Ellen Sebastian Chang. She is a founding member of Campo Santo, and has directed, performed, and collaborated on several new plays with artists such as Naomi Iizuka, Jessica Hagedorn, Phillip Kan Gotanda, and Octavio Solis. She debuted as a director with the World Premiere of Joyride, from the novel Grand Avenue by Greg Sarris, for Campo Santo. The production won the Critics Circle Award and SF Weekly Black Box Award for Best Director. She also co-directed Mission Indians with Nancy Benjamin, The Trail of Her Inner Thigh with Rhodessa Jones, Hotel Angulo, and Simpatico for Campo Santo.

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