Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Can't thank my Sarah enough for taking us to see Fela! on Broadway last week, and I strongly recommend that you get your yanch over to the Eugene O'Neil theatre to experience this masterpiece. As impresario Bill T. Jones puts it, Fela Kuti was "one of society's uncompromising sacred monsters. The type our human civilization depends on. An immoderate, misguided, genius who could speak truly to power and make a difference." Fela! conveys a nuanced and lasting impression of this bristling man, a role model for all who hate corruption, a man for whom music was a weapon.

Honestly, I had my reservations. Gazpachot is no fan of the gorgonzola tropes of Broadway. But Fela! avoids the cheese traps that big theater lays for itself. Sahr Ngaujah as Fela is one charismatic presence. He's a shade cuddlier than the actual Fela, but is as close as you could get without lapsing into cheap imitation. In a much lesser role, Saycon Sengbloh, as Fela's (#1) wife, Sandra, is molten. As important, Antibalas' music teases the threads of your ancient African heart and re-organizes the rhythmic patterns of your brainwaves forever.



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