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Fela!

A Broadway Musical

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The Best Show Currently On Broadway

  • Mar 11, 2010
Rating:
+5
While New York city was hit with a massive snowstorm this weekend, I was lucky to experience the warmth and power of the sounds and visual beauty of this amazing musical on Broadway (actually half a block from Broadway).  I came to this show knowing virtually nothing about it other than it being a musical with African music.  I was floored immediately when I got there.  The story is about Fela Anikulapo Kuti, a Nigerian musician who made the government of Nigeria uneasy.

In the show Fela has an open dialogue with the audience while playing a mean tenor sax (one that is decorated and painted red) while beautiful dancers come out of the audience and gyrate to a sound that includes bongos, keyboard, guitar, alto sax and trumpets.  The music sounds almost latin in beat and it was hard to just sit and not try to move to the beat or tap your feet.  During the show Fela has the audience participate whether it is standing and trying to imitate the hip movements of the lithe dancers or to sing the chorus of one of the brilliant songs.

Throughout the show Fela is inspired by the ghost of his mother who makes a few very dramatic appearances and sings with the voice of an angel.  Through her inspiration Fela goes to the United States (late 60's) and is introduced to the Black Power movement.  He returns to his native Nigeria and makes political songs that makes the Nigerian Government uneasy.  We are told that Fela ran for Nigerian President, was arrested some 200 times, constantly beaten and his headquarters raided where many of his women dancers were attacked and his mother murdered.

The story had me scrambling to Wikipedia to learn more about this historical figure who seems to have left a huge impact on his country and touched so many US musicians too.

This show had more energy than any show I have seen in recent memory and it is a wonder where the dancers get the energy to sustain themselves through the three hours of the show.  I have seen about 15 Broadway musicals over the last few years and this one tops them all.  A truely unforgettable experience that should not be missed!

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June 25, 2010
Wow, this sounds so interesting! Often I find musicals a bit too long to sit through, so I like the idea that this has an interactive element that keeps the audience engaged. And I love that Fela plays the sax! Thanks for this descriptive review. Very well written!
June 25, 2010
Thanks. Hope you get to see it, you won't be disappointed.
 
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More Fela! reviews
Quick Tip by . December 21, 2009
Saw this over the weekend and it is one of the best shows Broadway has produced in years - see my full review.
review by . December 21, 2009
While New York city was hit with a massive snowstorm this weekend, I was lucky to experience the warmth and power of the sounds and visual beauty of this amazing musical on Broadway (actually half a block from Broadway).  I came to this show knowing virtually nothing about it other than it being a musical with African music.  I was floored immediately when I got there.  The story is about Fela Anikulapo Kuti, a Nigerian musician who made the government of Nigeria uneasy.   …
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Wiki

Fela! is a musical with a book by Bill T. Jones and Jim Lewis, music and lyrics by Fela Kuti, additional music by Aaron Johnson and Jordan Mclean and additional lyrics by Jim Lewis. It is based on events in the life of groundbreaking Nigerian composer and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti, depicting Kuti as the target of 1,000 soldiers determined to put an end to his public performances at the legendary Lagos nightclub The Shrine.

The musical ran off-Broadway for one month in 2008 and premiered on Broadway on November 23, 2009. The off-Broadway production won the Lucille Lortel Awards for Best Musical, Outstanding Choreograper for Bill T. Jones and Outstanding Costume Design for Marina Draghici.
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Genre: Musical

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