FELA!, the acclaimed musical about the father of Afrobeat music, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, has returned to Broadway this summer for a limited run of 32 performances from July 9-August 4. People who see the play can’t stop talking about it for weeks and weeks. This is the ultimate convergence of all art forms, from singing, dancing, live musical performance, improvisation, video projection art, interactivity (you’ve really got to see all the older white folks try to move their hips like an African) and much, much more.
Bill T. Jones, the main producer and choreographer (who is a modern dance and artistic genius) was hesitant at first to take on a broadway project as they are often very restricted in what they can do (Book of Mormons probably helped change that). But he was fascinated by Fela and mesmerized by his music.
“He [Fela] was … so imperfect … The whole world revolved around Fela and his way of thinking,” he says. “He was poetic for me, and I sometimes call him a kind of ‘sacred monster.’ No society should be without a person who asks difficult questions.”
“The Shrine”, Fela’s commune and performance space in Nigeria is captured beautifully. With Antibalas, the backing bands permanent place on stage, to projections of Fela’s lyrics, (which can often go over your head; for example, “Zombies”, one of my favorite songs, is not about people in general who are zombies, but the Nigerian police), the audience gets the feeling you are really there. The play breaks down the meaning behind Fela’s revolutionary songs and cutting edge mix of original musical styles, High Life music + funk, jazz and dance music.
So don’t miss out, get your tickets now! My friends over at I Love Vinyl have 3 pairs of tickets, and 3 copies of a super limited edition 10″ Fela Kuti vinyl (a Record Store Day 2010 exclusive, not available anywhere!) from Knitting Factory Records, to give away. You can win by not leaving your computer by tweeting or alternatively getting your booty out to an I LOVE VINYL party. More info about the giveaway here!