Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Fela! The Broadway Musical
Twas my V Day surprise to the lady and surprised she was. As we walked into the theater I looked around and noticed the festive stage design. It was pretty bright and I could see folks walking around who seemed to be a part of the show, even though the production hadn't officially started yet. The band Antibalas was playing some dope Afro Beat groove. As I sat down I was ready for whatever this show was going to be.
My introduction to Fela Kuti's music started about 8 years ago after a night of clubbing and dancing. I crashed at my brother Tahleim's place and before going to sleep he proceeded to play for me two artists who would alter the way I heard music. One was Fela Kuti and the other was Nina Simone.
As the show started and the familiar Afrobeat grooves filled the auditorium I felt giddy. I'd seen Antibalas before live and hell my boy Marcus is even in the band, however I've never seen them play Fela songs. This was quite an experience. The dancers were excellent both male and female and I honestly felt like the play overall made me feel proud to be who I am. I loved the connection made between Black people in America and Fela. I love that it was the black power movement that helped fuel his return to his homeland to do an important work. The actor who played Fela did a great job as did the woman who played Sandra Isadore. I nearly jumped out of my skin as they went into my favorite Fela song Upside Down.
As the play went on I got a good sense of the respect and admiration Fela had for his mother Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti. She laid the foundation for him to be a rebellious leader for his people. The music moved in and out of the story almost seamlessly. Also the light work was well done in this production. Props to Jay-Z and Jada Pinkett-Smith for backing this play.
Bottom line, if you are a fan of Fela's work/music you MUST see this play. I'll probably see it again if possible (a first for me). See the video's below for a primer on Fela's work.