This weekend I witnessed a Broadway musical unlike any I had ever seen. With producers including Sean Carter (Jay-Z) and Will and Jada Smith, new Broadway sensation "Fela" is one of the most entertaining, musically stimulating, and beautiful productions ever!
"Fela!" uses a style of music called "afro-beat," a unique style that gathers influences from jazz, funk, Nigerian folk music (horns, bass, guitar, and percussion, etc.) and pairs it with the most beautiful voices, to make for an upbeat, complex, and rhythmic sound. The story, not the main component (the music takes the lead role) follows a real life Nigerian singer Fela Kuti on his last night at his club, The Shrine. The chorus is filled with both thick, slender, short, tall, but all beautiful women who sing and dance constantly throughout the show- trust me they are really shakin' it. Alot of the interaction is between Fela and his chorus of ladies, which is entertaining in and of itself. Fela himself is a show. The lead is amazingly talented- picking up sax and horn for his solo's- and extremely energetic. Also vocally noteworthy are his main wife and the spirit of his deceased mother- their voices will touch your soul!
It's hard to believe that a story this upbeat and beautiful actually takes place during civil war and chaos in post-colonial Nigeria during the 1960's on . Interspersed in the story through music and chants, Fela accounts on the troubles of growing up in Nigeria, his dream/conflict to leave for good, and his ultimate rise to public status through his inspirational music and message of love and peace. "Original No Artificiality' is a mantra repeated throughout the show (they make you sing along too) that defines the show in a nutshell. If you don't think you'll be impressed by the music alone, go for the costumes, the interactive experience and visual uniqueness (pay attention to the glow in the dark back lit scene!). When I noticed I couldn't stop movin', and saw the old white people around me movin' too, I was sold... Go see Fela!