Previews Begin: October 19th
Opening Night: November 23rd
Eugene O’Neill Theatre
Reviewed by Wendy
the musical is based on the life of Afrobeat legend
Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Fela was famous for many
things - inventing a new form of music called
Afrobeat, being a political activist who railed
against the Nigerian military government (they
railed back) and for being an AIDS denier who
succumbed to the disease himself in 1997.
But the the Broadway
play FELA! is set in a "happier"
era of the 1970's when Fela performed nightly
in his night club called The Shrine. I say happier
with a sense of irony because Fela was routinely
arrested and beaten by the corrupt Nigerian government.
the musical, Fela's nightly parties are recreated.
The parties are booty shaky, drum throbbing, ganja
spiffing, decadent events driven by a Fela's music.
But while Fela partied, he also talked and his
political view, delivered in pidgen English so
all Africans could understand, were an anathema
to the corrupt Nigeria military establishment.
Unlike the American black activists Fela met when
he visited the United States, Fela did not think
that that black power would solve the problems
of Nigeria. After all, Nigeria had black power
and it was corrupt.
The military struck
back, attacking Fela's compound and killing his
mother. Fela responded by delivering his mother's
coffin to the military establishment and creating
a new song, "Zombie." "Zombie"
became a hit all over the world and the streets
of Nigeria were filled with Zombies marching to
the song. All of this is depicted to great effect
in the musical. .
The musical is
directed by and choreographed by Tony Award winner
Bill T. Jones and is in the words of the press
release, a "provocative hybrid of concert,
dance and musical theater." It is also must-see
is playing in open run at the Eugene O’Neill
Theatre at 230 West 49th St. Tickets are Ticket
Price: $50.50 - $122.00; $27.00 Rush at 212-239-6200
& 800-432-7250 & telecharge.com.