FELA! is a musical directed and choreographed by Bill T. Jones about the tumultuous life of Afro-beat legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Using his pioneering music (a blend of jazz, funk, and African rhythm and harmonies), FELA! explores Kuti’s controversial life as an artist, political activist and revolutionary musician. A three-time Tony Award winner in 2010, this production arrives at the Ordway direct from Broadway.
Critics say you’ should be prepared for the high energy and emotional turmoil of this star-powered musical.
Sahr Ngaujah stars in FELA!
Photo courtesy Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
Anyone who sits through “FELA!” may be forgiven for feeling wrung out after two-and-a-half hours of ecstatic Afrobeat music, pulsing dance, emotional turmoil and epic resolution.
As the title character, Sahr Ngaujah not only has the moves like Fela, he has the stature, the voice and the star power. It’s a stunning performance in a demanding role that requires Ngaujah to spend nearly every moment of the 165-minute show front and center.
From Janet Preus at HowWasTheShow.com:
I don’t usually give points just for energy. (Broadway musicals generally try to top each other as calorie-burning affairs for their actor/dancers.) But this one has a different kind of energy that feels organic to the piece – essential, really, and a natural part of the music, the story and the emotions that drive it all. He proclaims as a young man, “I’m going to change the world.” In the final number, when he sings “They wan bury and forget, but we won’t let them,” it’s possible to think that maybe he still can.
FELA! runs through June 17 at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. Have you seen it? If so, what’s your review?