Showing posts with label Fela review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fela review. Show all posts

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Fela! Review & Fela! On Tour-Afrobeat Orchestra Tonight At Lincoln Hall

Saturday, April 07 2012 10:00 PM
21+ $16.00

($18.00 Door)

ChiIL Live Shows was there for opening night of Fela! in Chicago at Oriental Theatre and we were blown away by the passion, the politics and the power of this Broadway Musical!  Tonight, you can hear the music Fela! is famous for, with members of the cast, The Fela Band and Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra.    We'll be there to shoot the Lincoln Hall show tonight.   Lincoln Hall is 21+.   For the musical at Oriental Theatre, parents are strongly cautioned due to mature themes, political violence, drug use, and language.   The historical and political story of Fela! makes this musical a worthy "must see" for older teens and adults.

The sheer spectacle of the colorful costumes, choreography, phenomenal acting, and superior set design all contribute to make a lasting impression.  The wrenching drama of this oppression story is still timely today.  Fela's history is a story that should not be forgotten, told with such passion and joyful dance that patrons will hardly realize they're learning.   We particularly loved the execution of the dream scene, where Fela! visits his dead mother to seek her wisdom.

Fela! the Musical is playing at The Oriental Theatre through April 15th.   Highly recommended, whether you're a Fela fan or a newbie to the Afrobeat scene! 

FELA!, the joyous dance, theater, music spectacle, has thrilled
audiences in three continents. The Tony Award® winner, directed and
choreographed by Bill T. Jones explores the extravagant world of
Afrobeat legend, Fela Kuti.
FELA! comes to Chicago's Oriental Theater
following its sold-out run at London's prestigious National Theatre
where The Guardian's Michael Billington exclaimed, "It breaks down
conventional barriers between stage and auditorium and joins passion and
politics. The dancing is ecstatic, the music lifts the spirits, and
the stage is alive with movement." After Ben Brantley of the New York
Times raved, "There should be dancing in the streets!" Bill T. Jones
earned a Tony Award® for Best Choreographer. He was also given the
Astaire Award and received a 2010 Kennedy Center Honor along with Oprah

Ticket prices are $25 to $90.

Groups of 15 or more, now on sale!

Call 312-977-1710 or click here for tickets.

FELA!, the most critically acclaimed musical of the season,
received three 2010 Tony Awards®: Best Choreography, Best Costume Design
for a Musical and Best Sound Design of a Musical!
His story inspired a
nation. His music inspires the world. FELA! tells the true story of the
legendary Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, whose soulful Afrobeat rhythms
ignited a generation. Motivated by his mother, a civil rights champion,
he defied a corrupt and oppressive military government and devoted his
life and music to the struggle for freedom and human dignity. FELA! is a
triumphant tale of courage, passion and love, featuring Fela Kuti’s
captivating music and the visionary direction and choreography of Tony
Award® winner Bill T. Jones. 

Fela! first came to life in 2000 when New Yorker, Stephen Hendel,
stumbled across a CD of the Nigerian firebrand, iconoclast,
rabble-rouser and composer of genius, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. He was so
impressed with the music and with Fela’s keen sense of social justice
that he determined to create a theatre piece expressing the timeless and
universal message contained in how Fela committed his gift as a voice
for the disenfranchised.

In 2004 Steve Hendel joined forces with Tony Award-winning
choreographer, Bill T Jones, who he invited to direct the play. Bill
then brought in writer Jim Lewis and together the three set about
mounting a series of workshops, involving musicians, actors, dancers and
technicians. It soon became clear that attempting to compress the
entirety of Fela’s turbulent and event-filled life into a stage play was
impossible. They elected to create a painting; an ode to determination
and truth to power by concentrating on one short, highly-charged period
during the late seventies, using it as a vehicle through which to
present a prime example of commitment and courage and art used as an
expression of human dignity.

Fela had used his extraordinary big-band music as a medium in which
he created biting, satirical diatribes against the excesses of
successive military regimes in his native Nigeria. Any form of
injustice, oppression, mismanagement, corruption was fearlessly and
ferociously attacked, using eloquent harangues that specifically named
the perpetrators.
He had paid a steep price for his bravery in the face of powerful and
implacable enemies, with 200 arrests and countless beatings that left
scars all over his body. But even these beatings didn’t stop him. “Ah
well, they didn’t kill me”, he would proclaim as he wrote yet another
acerbic lyric and gave inflammatory quotes to the press.

Fela died in August 1997. AIDS, they said, but as far as those close
to him were concerned, he died of one beating too many. He was a giant
of a man, but a man nevertheless. The system can only take so much. One
million people attended his funeral.

His legacy was a testament of incredible courage, together with
almost 50 albums of music that are now available globally through
Knitting Factory Records. His message of transparency, honest government
and justice for all is still as relevant today as when it was when
first released 4 decades ago — not just in Nigeria but globally.
Inspired by Fela’s courage and incredible musical mastery, it
nevertheless took two years of development for the creative and
technical team to reach the stage where they were ready to begin
mounting the piece Off-Broadway at a New York theatre complex, 37 Arts.

They spent three months at 37 Arts perfecting the production before
they were ready to open “Fela! The Musical”. The show was an immediate
and unmitigated critical and public success. Celebrities flocked to see
the show; Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Christine Amanpour, Charlize
Theron, and countless others. The decision was taken to go to Broadway.

With the blessings of the Kuti family, in 2009 the show opened at the
Eugene O’Neill Theatre and with Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and Will &
Jada Pinkett-Smith coming on board as Producers, over the next 15
months, played to half a million people. Celebrities kept coming;
Madonna, Denzel Washington, Ben Stiller, Mick Jagger, Sting, Harry
Belafonte, Spike Lee (8 times!) Kofi Annan and Michelle Obama, to name
but a few. 

The show received 11 Tony nominations and three Tony Awards
for Best Choreography, Best Costumes and Best Sound. In 2010, whilst
still on Broadway, a second company was formed to present a sold-out
season of performances at London’s prestigious Royal National Theatre.

Since its 15 month Tony Award-winning run on Broadway an amalgam
company was created from members of the American and European casts.

Audiences in their many hundreds of thousands on both sides of the
Atlantic, including a triumphal series of performances in Fela’s beloved
Lagos, have risen to their feet in admiration of the play’s ethos and
execution. We would be surprised if you would not do the same.

The show is currently on tour in the United States. Visit to see the tour schedule. Don’t miss it!

Notable Quotes

“THE HOT (AND SERIOUSLY COOL) ENERGY that comes from the musical
gospel preached by the title character of FELA! Feels as if it could
stretch easily to the borders of Manhattan and then across a river or
two. There should be dancing in the streets!”
“FELA! Is as rowdy as it is rousing. (It) is one of the most ORIGINAL and EXCITING shows to come around in a long while.”
“A great humane and transcendental fable come to life, with
everything “fable” implies; MYTHIC, FABULOUS and a supreme lesson in
living, here supplied magisterially by choreographer BILL T. JONES and
his star, SAHR NGAUJAH.”
“FIVE STARS (out of five) FELA! Is more than a musical…an ECSTATIC PHENOMENON.”
“BILL T. JONES wildly loose-limbed journey into the throbbing heart of Afrobeat BREAKS BOLD NEW GROUND IN MUSICAL THEATRE.”
“There’s enough energy in the first act of FELA! to short circuit
Con Ed. It spills over from the stage and into the orchestra seats.
BOUNDLESS AND JOYOUS: This is as close as Broadway gets to fully
immersive theatre.”

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