happy 2012, everyone!
my new years eve did not let me down with the brilliant production of FELA at the ahmanson theatre!
my partner and i have to give ourselves a pat on the back for splurging on such amazing seats. third row was just close enough to catch all of the action and none of the sweat as there was plenty of that to go round with the amazing dancers onstage!
the story of FELA begins with his ’69 tour of america and follows his subsequent political development. like many disenfranchised young africans of the time, he too subscribed to the notion of leaving nigeria and making it large in america, yet he struggled with abandoning the nation of his birth full of the haunting memories of his mother. that struggle being the focal point of the musical, allows the audience a glimpse of the forces that shaped his life and the underlying political messages of his music.
brilliantly portrayed by sahr ngaujah, his rendition exudes the magnetism, intensity and humor that fela was known for while staying true to the stylings of his musicianship. melanie marshall was a stand out as fela’s mother, funmilayo, with a voice that can only be described as mesmerizing. her operatic range would swell and soar causing the hair on my arms to stand up!
the choreography was relentless making it impossible to sit still as lithe young men and women performed hip grinding african influenced moves peppered with american tap. staying true to the flavor of fela’s shows, the dancers did double duty as chorus and solo musicians. i would have wished for more audience participation but most of the peeps within my scope were too self conscious to give any of the performers’ direction a try.
regardless, it was an evening fueled by fast and funky beats as i felt myself transported by the imaginative production value of the stage design and the performance of a truly inexhaustible cast! i strongly urge any music enthusiast with a love of global groove, to go to the ahmanson and check out this show posthaste. this limited engagement runs only through january 22 so don’t miss out!
in keeping with the spirit of the show, barka da sabuwar shekara and all the best of 2012!pictures courtesy of the centre theatre group