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Home arrow Reviews arrow Reviews By Scott arrow Reviews By Scott arrow FELA! Too Much of a Good Thing
FELA! Too Much of a Good Thing PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Scott Lewis   
May 11, 2013 at 12:00 AM

Fela LogoPut together the talents of Jay-Z, Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith and you can expect something big.  FELA! is their foray into the Broadway Musical.  Based on the life story of Fela Kuti, a Nigerian activist and musician who with international success in music was able to become quite a thorn in the side of the corrupt dictatorship that ran his country.

Fela communicated his message through his music.  Afrobeat as it came to be known was Kuti's creation, a blend of Funk, Jazz and African Rythyms.  Many of Kuti's own songs form the score of this over two hour non stop party.

Michelle Williams Photo
Michelle Williams in FELA Photo by Carol Rosegg

Staged within the walls of Kuti's The Shrine Night Club Fela! Explodes from it's opening with amazing sounds and energy.  The choreography and costumes are amazing.  But as amazing as the music and costumes are the beat goes on to the point of redundancy.  Somewhere in the second act it becomes that Dance remix that just won't end.

Melanie MarshalL and Adesola Osakalumi
Melanie Marshall and Adesola Osakalumi Photo by Sharen Bradford
All advertising trumpeted loudly the inclusion in the cast of former Destiny's Child member Michelle Williams. Sadly, Williams who is a powerhouse vocalist is not only underused as the woman that peaks Kuti's interest in politics, she performs songs that are bland and take no advantage of her talent.

Adesola Osakalumi as Fela Kuti is a powerful lead, engaging, energetic and fun to watch.

This show however belongs to Melanie Marshall as the spirit of Kuti's mother.  A moral compass for Fela, Marshall's haunting vocals are the high point of this show, and by far some of the most chilling I have ever experienced in a theater.  Unfortunately, Marshall appears little and not enough overcome FELA's other challenges.
FELA Photo
FELA! features infectious beats

A production of FELA! reduced to one act while not cutting Marshall's part would be an amazing night of theater.  Fela plays the Winspear Opera House through Saturday, June 19th.  Tickets $16.75-$150 available at www.attpac.org

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