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Details of Fela! and the Ticket Luck value
Ever since the production of Jersey Boys, the assumption that successfully portraying music icons and legends is next to impossible on Broadway is next to impossible, has been proved wrong. If Jersey Boys made us think otherwise, Fela! has re-enforced it with such conviction that now portraying music legend seems the way of producing Broadway masterpiece. Those who thought Jersey Boys was a 1 time miracle have met a pleasant surprise in the form of Fela! which features the lyrics of the legendry Nigerian artist Fela Anikulapo Kuti. If you had lost fate in musicals then this is the show for you! It takes you into a world where body movement, dance complete the communication giving a whole new meaning to theatre per se.
Just like any magnum opus, this show is a fusion of great minds. This is perfection at its best, where three masters' creativity blends with serenity and the end result is absolute magic. The books by Jim Lewis and Bill T Jones on the lyrics and music by Fela Kuti and voila, you have the perfect recipe for pure gold for all of your senses. Fela! despite being a picture of exquisite perfection is essentially, the story of Fela Kuti's life. But Jones and Lewis have dabbed it here and there with their magic gold touch and have managed to create a vibrant upbeat atmosphere. The stage story weaves in and out of the musical life of Kuti, into his political awakening and then straight into his spiritual journey. The beauty of the musical lies in a multitude of things, including some of the most breath taking dance routines, to euphoric music to soul shaking lyrics which beautify some of the most misunderstood and ostensibly gory aspects of the life of Kuti.
Late Fela Kuti is considered one of the most popular African artists of all times. This Nigerian God of music is considered by many to be the pioneer of afrobeat music. As per James Brown, he is also the originator of funk music. Born to a middle class family in 1938, Kuti was a human rights activist and a feminist. In 1958, he came to London to study medicine. But he opted music and got into Trinity College of Music. He formed his band Koola Lobitos and started working on his music. He created a new style of music which later became famous by the name of afrobeat. This music was a perfect blend of funk, jazz and the African music. He married his first wife in 1960. 3 years later, Kuti returned to Nigeria and continued working on his music. He reformed Koola Lobitos and became a radio producer. The band travelled to US in 1969 but returned to Nigeria since they did not have the work permit. Kuti renamed his band to Africa '70'. When he formed Kalakuta Republic, his recording studio but there was no stopping him. Fela! the musical captures all aspects of his music and his political struggle and follows into his spiritual journey as well.
Fela! the musical ran off-Broadway for an entire month back in 2008. It premiered in New York City's 37 Arts Theatre B on 4th September 2008 and closed exactly a month later. But this was before the show premiered on Broadway which was a whole year later in October 2009. It won many awards as well, including the Lucille Lortel Awards for Best Musical. Bill T Jones won an award for Outstanding Choreographer and Ouststanding Costume Design for the costumer designer and living legend Marina Draghici. The cast includes Sahr Ngaujah. The mega star took on the role of Fela whereas Abena Koomson plays Fela's mother Funmilayo. All of Kuti's music and songs featured in the musical have been recreated and performed by Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, the Brooklyn based band. They have gotten the closest any band can to doing justice to Kuti's music.
If you are not a huge fan of theatre than go watch Fela! it will turn you into a devout, ardent fan of not only musicals but also Broadway. Because that is where music comes alive, body does the talking, stage tells the tale and you lose yourself in that very story, in that very moment. Grab Fela! tickets and let it turn you into a believer.
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