Fela is an exciting musical that is built upon the real life events of the brilliantly innovative and absolutely revolutionary composer and magnificent singer Fela Anikulapo Kuti of Nigerian nationality who was also known for his dedication to human rights activism on a very strongly political front. He was famous for being an exceptionally talented multi-instrumentalist who could create and weave together some of the most complexly breathtaking compositions, while all at the same time he was also a devoted pioneer of the rich Afrobeat tunes. The book of the musical is wonderfully written by Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones, while the magically entrancing music and breathtakingly beautiful lyrics have been taken form the original works of the late Nigerian artist. Additional music has been contributed by Jordan Mclean and Aaron Johnson whereas further lyrics have been written by Jim Lewis.
Fela reflects upon Kuti from the days when he was sought after desperately by a thousand government officers who were ruthlessly commanded to put an end to the musician’s performances public that were publicly held at the well established and renowned Lagos nightclub known as The Shrine. The heart swelling portrayal of the artist’s legendary life and the circumstances, through which he bravely struggled, has attracted many audiences to get those Fela tickets the second time.
Fela premiered with its off-Broadway production in 2008 at thirty-seven Arts Theatre B located in the city New York. The musical was conceived intelligently by artists Bill T. Jones, Jim Lewis and Steve Hendel, while it was laboriously choreographed and directed strategically by Jones. The scenic designs and costume patterns were put together by Marina Draghici. The cast included some seriously talented and skillful actors and actresses including Abena Koomson portraying Fela’s mother Funmilayo, and Sahr Ngaujah playing Fela. In 2009, the Broadway production of the musical opened at the nationally well recognized Eugene O’ Neil Theatre, with choreography by Jones. The cast included Kevin Mambo and Ngaujah playing the character of Fela, with Lillias White portraying Funmilayo and Saycon Sengbloh playing Sandra. Both the productions were musically arranged and wonderfully performed by the celebrated Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra based in the city of Brooklyn.
In 2008, Fela went off Broadway for an entire month and then opened again in November 2009, after a year. The off-Broadway version garnered much critical acclaim which culminated in the form of the prestigious Lucille Lortel Awards in several categories including Best Musical, Outstanding Costume Design won by Marina Draghici and Outstanding Choreographer won by Bill T. Jones. Simultaneously the musical also received four Drama Desk Award nominations for its remarkable orchestration, choreography, acting skills and for the musical itself. The production on Broadway also received overwhelming critical appreciation and gathered as many as eleven seriously honorably dazzling Tony Award nominations in 2010, among which the musical won in the categories of Best Choreography, Best Sound Design of a Musical and Best Costume Design of a Musical. The meaningful musical also won a Theatre World Award while it received a sparkling Grammy Award nomination in the category of Best Musical Album.
The musical score of Fela includes some intriguingly fascinating tunes such as Everything Scatter, Hymn, I Got the Feeling, Trouble Sleep, Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense, Upside Down, Water No Get Enemy, Suffering and Smiling and Kere Kay. The show also features some seriously touching sad songs like Zombie, Sorrow Tears and Blood/Shine, Medzi Medzi, Manteca Yellow Fever Expensive Shit, Lover and Coffin for Head of State. The enlighteningly amusing musical has been given some very positive reviews most of which point out the acting genius of Ngaujah’s passionate depiction of Fela. The performance was taken to London in 2010 where it became a real favorite and promoted touring in other countries such as Canada while the musical is regularly performing all over the United States. So get Fela tickets and experience the overpowering performance of this thrillingly thought provoking musical that has fully entertained and inspired the hearts of its many audiences.
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