Everybody say YEAH YEAH! I say oh HELL to the YEAH. FELA! is back for a limited run on broadway through August, 4th. If for some reason, like me, you are one of the few that missed the original run of this show you have been granted a once in a lifetime second chance to see something amazing that will transform you.
I heard some of Fela’s music on cassette back in the day, and I was familiar with his story. I am so greateful that I was able to see this production. I wanted to go when it was on broadway the first time. I really wanted to see it when Patti Labelle joined the cast. I regretted missing this show ever since. So when I heard FELA! was coming back to broadway for four weeks I was determined not to squander the opportunity. I put this at the top of my summer short list. I have to say that this is some of the best entertainment money that I have EVER spent. Believe the hype. FELA! IS THAT GOOD.
Let me break it down for you, why a fan of 1970’s Black culture would naturally love this show. Because this is a story that is deeply rooted in 1970’s Black culture. Although FELA! is set in Nigeria in the 1970’s, it closely parallels the Black power movement that was happening in the U.S. during that time. So if you are of a certain age you will relate to the struggles and the journey of Fela and the Nigerian people. This show combines seat shaking FUNKY music (James Brown+Funk+Jazz+Horns+Bass+Fela=Afrobeats) with Black Power (Imported from the U.S.) and Revolution against the Man (Inspired and supported by strong Black women). Right up my alley. This is a powerful story about a man who leads his people against the tyranny, corruption and brutality of the Nigerian government and the military through his words and music. He makes great sacrifices and pays a steep price for his activism. But he never gives up.
Put these elements on stage with a live band, beautiful Black people and Bill T. Jones direction and choreography and you are in for a unique experience. You will feel like you are really at the Fela show at the Shrine club in Nigeria. The energy of FELA! pulls you in from the beginning. I would have loved to see Fela perform back in the 70’s. Probably would have ranked it up there with the landing of the Mothership! Original, No Artificiality!
If you have not seen this show get to the theatre before it leaves. If you love musicals, if you love to be moved, if you love FUNK…get off your ass and get your tickets right now.
AL HIRSCHFELD THEATRE
302 West 45th Street
New York, New York
You should also check out Fela’s music. I am putting his catalogue on my ipod in the FUNK section.