Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fervently Favoring Fela

Something grand happened the other night – I got to see Fela! on Broadway. Ever since The Lion King, I’ve been completely turned off to the idea of the Great White Way ever re-taking up any representation of Africa. But Fela! completely exceeded my expectations. I was annoyed when it ended and am already jonesing to see it again. Even my dad liked it, and he’s someone who’s even less easily impressed than I am.

There’s so much unmemorable, unoriginal crap on and off Broadway these days, so it was nice to be reminded of what going to the theater in a cultural epicenter like New York was meant (I’m assuming) to be. Everything in Fela! was so top-shelf – the acting, the music, the dancing, the message. The whole experience renewed my already sky-high African pride as well as my lifelong conviction that the arts are central to the propagation of any legitimate civilization. Hell, I might even watch the Tony Awards this year (or, rather, keep it on in the background for a couple of hours), just for Fela!-rooting purposes (it’s nominated for 11 Tonys, including Best Musical).

For those of you who live in NYC, but hardly ever go to shows – budget the time and the funds for this one. And really plan on getting into it once you’re there. For those of you who will be passing through NYC anytime soon, even if it’s just for a couple of days on business, here’s something worthwhile to do during your off-time. (Don’t wait for it to come to your city via a national touring company – there’s no way it’s going to be as good as with this original, Broadway-based cast.)

If I ever have a son, I’m now thinking of naming him Fela. I can’t remember what they said it means, but it was something good. I also might sign up for African dance classes this fall, instead of opting for the long-postponed tap dancing lessons toward which I’ve been tentatively earmarking my dolla bills.

The only displeasure was the temperature in the theater. I don’t know if it was just that the AC was down that particular night – or if they were deliberately trying to recreate the on-the-ground conditions of a 1970s Lagos nightclub (or of Nigeria, in general). No, I don’t care so much about the rationale, I’m only interested in the results – which were that I was sweating almost as much as the constantly-moving members of the ensemble cast. There were two times when my view of the stage became obstructed by a person in front of me aggressively fanning herself with her playbill.

Yet the feat was worth the heat, and my buzz still hasn’t worn off.

1 comment:

  1. LOVED Fela! We bought the double CD and listen to it all the time.