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When I used to think about Broadway, the words “boringggggggg” crossed my mind. Although I was exposed to it growing up, I just did not feel any connection with it. I was more interested in partying, hanging out with my friends and just having fun in general. As I get older I can see my taste changing and I find myself seeking more interesting avenues to please my creative needs. When a good friend of mine invited me to New York to see a new play by the name of Fela!, I was initially resistant to attend but I agreed nonetheless. The more I researched this new play the more and more I became interested. With my research I also saw that I was not the only person becoming more interested in Broadway. More and more celebrities are crossing over into the Broadway world to fatten their pockets, test their entertainment value and please their theatrical roots. Take Grammy-winner Alicia Keys for instance. Keys recently produced Stick Fly, which is set to release this November. Earlier this year Brook Shields starred in The Adams Family Broadway Musical as Morticia. The list goes on for celebrities current attraction to theatre, but when I heard Jay-Z and Will & Jada Pinkett-Smith produced Fela!, I was more than excited to see what this new play was about. So off we went to the Big Apple!
Who is Fela? Fela Kuti is known to many as a political activist, human rights activist, musician and composer. Fela was born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti in Abeokuta, Nigeria. Until his untimely death, at the age of 58, Fela left behind a legacy to his followers. He proved to be a extraordinary musical innovator, political nonconformist and pioneer of the Afrobeat (traditional Yoruba, funk and jazz). Fela was also known for producing more than 70 albums, marrying over 27 women at one time and having over 200 arrests.
Fela’s following was so abundant over one million people were in attendance at his funeral in 1997. The restoration of Fela into modern pop culture captured the attention of many, thus attracting a multitude of visitors to the Fela! World Tour. The rhythmic Afrobeat sounds have mesmerized many and continue to spark the interests of new listeners everyday.
Yes I did See it… and every moment of it was exhilarating! Although the average length of each song is 15 minutes or so, every minute will capture your heart. Fela’s captivating story telling and comical addiction to pot (which is mentioned often in the play and MANY people can relate to) kept me attentive during the 2 hours and 35 minutes in its show time. His most recognizable hits “Zombie” and “Unknown Soldier” help complement this creative theatre piece that depicts Fela’s eventful life.
Since the show opened in 2009 the play has seen unmitigated success. Fela! opened in 2009 at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre with big name producers and the financial backing of the popular celebrities Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and Will & Jada Pinkett-Smith. The play has drawn many more celebrities during the show’s Wold Tour. Stars such as Spike Lee (who I hear has attended over 8 times), Madonna and Denzel Washington all have shown their support for Fela!
If your new to Broadway, Fela! would be the perfect show to transition you into this new world. Broadway is not what it used to be 10 years ago. Fela! has definitely set the bar and the tone for musicals soon to come. I encourage you to see Fela! in a city near you. If you are a Broadway veteran, I am sure that a three-time Tony Award winning play is something that you do not want to miss. I promise you that Fela! is anything but boring!
Coming to a Playhouse Near You…Get Your Tickets!
Washington, D.C. – Sidney Harman Hall (9/13 to 10/9)
Atlanta, GA – Atlanta Civic Center (10/11 to 10/16)
New Haven, CT – Shubert Theater (10/20 to 10/23)
Toronto, ON – Canon Theatre (10/25 to 11/6)
San Francisco, CA – Curran Theater (11/15 to 12/5)
Detroit, MI – Detroit Music Hall (2/14 to 3/14)
Philadelphia, PA – Kimmel Center For the Performing Arts (3/15 to 3/24)
Chicago, IL – Oriental Theater (3/27 to 4/8)
Los Angeles, CA – Ahmanson Theatre (4/25 to 6/3) ** I have to say that it is completely UNFAIR that it is showing for so long in LA!!!
St. Paul, MN – Ordway Center for Performing Arts (6/12 to 6/12)
For those of you who have seen the play I encourage you to share your thoughts!