Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-07-08
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Fela!
THEATER REVIEW
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2012-04-04

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Playwright: Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones. At: Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St. Tickets: 800-775-2000. www.BroadwayInChicago.com; $25-$90. Runs through: April 15

The true story of Nigerian music innovator Fela Kuti is brought to life onstage with an explosion of color, dance and music, thanks to big-name producers Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter as well as Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, among many others. However, in the show fans learn that Kuti did not use famous people like Bob Marley but danced to the beat of his own drum.

Kuti was a pioneer and creator of Afrobeat music, a blend of jazz, funk and chanted vocals. It was originated in a club called Afro-Shrine, where the band resided for five years; this is the setting of the show. Director Bill T. Jones keeps the storyline from being a by-the-numbers biography, the moving things along in concert form. The story is told with Tony Award nominated Sahr Ngaujah filling Kuti's shoes.

In many ways, this is a one-man show with dancers, singers and a band onstage supporting him. Ngaujah has a charisma and charm that works well with an audience that he has rising out of their seats and chanting "Yeah, yeah."

The lights—complete with a disco ball—keep the mood light for the first act, and the production truly flies by. Subtitles projected on the back wall help with some of the lyrics that can be difficult to follow.

The audience is transported to Africa by watching this production with true style, and one doesn't need to know the background to have a good time. Audience members rose from their seats to attempt to move to the tune of a time clock; a pelvic thrust from 6 to 12 was easier said than done.

Melanie Marshall—as Kuti's mother, Funmilayo—hits notes that almost shatter glass and Paulette Ivory, as Sandra, keeps Kuti on his amorous toes. Neither stopped him from marrying 27 wives, represented by nine women onstage. (Incidentally, they all married in one day.) The real-life Sandra appeared for opening night in Chicago.

This touring show feels like a concert that follows a loose plot and history. Ngaujah plays saxophone while flashing a sweaty six-pack. (Fact: He runs for miles before the show to get into character.) This multitalented showman captures the spirit of Kuti.

As in real life, the show and Kuti become more political. The second act is heavier, with some graphic quotes and torture. Symbolically, the attack on his commune—where women were raped and his mother was thrown from a window—was difficult to watch, even artistically.

We can all relate to the message "with music as our weapon we will be here tomorrow," as the actor says towards the end of the show. In Nigeria, same-sex activity is still punishable by stoning and incarceration in some states. Before he passed away from AIDS in 1997, Kuti fought for a better country, and this is a show he would be proud of—with good reason.


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

STREAMING THEATER REVIEW The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes, Vol. 4, Lockdown! 2020-07-08 - Playwright: David Cerda At: Hell in a Handbag Productions, streaming online. Tickets: HandbagProductions.org/Stage773.com. Runs through: Aug. 15 As the long intermission ...


Gay News

Director David Zak steps down from post after community outcry 2020-07-04 - Pride Films & Plays (PFP) Executive Director David Zak stepped down from his longtime post July 3 after numerous members of Chicago's theater ...


Gay News

Broadway suspends shows through 2020 2020-06-30 - The Broadway League announced June 29 that Broadway performances in New York City will be suspended through the remainder of 2020 due to ...


Gay News

'Magic Parlour at Home' during July 2020-06-28 - Magician Dennis Watkins is taking his experience The Magic Parlour online for a completely new virtual offering dubbed "The Magic Parlour at Home." ...


Gay News

CHF talk to feature Abby McEnany and Samantha Irby 2020-06-24 - Actor Abby McEnany and writer Samantha Irby will have a conversation in a Chicago Humanities Festival digital program that will take place Thursday, ...


Gay News

THEATER Despite everything, there are shows for Pride Week 2020-06-24 - It's almost impossible to write about the indelible events of 2020 ( which is still not quite half over ) without diminishing them. ...


Gay News

Raven Theatre names new managing director 2020-06-24 - Following a nationwide search, Raven Theatre's board of directors announced Markie Gray as the company's new managing director, effective July 1. Originally from ...


Gay News

47th Non-Equity Jeff Awards announces honorees 2020-06-22 - June 22, 2020 — Chicago — As part of the annual recognition of theater excellence, the 47th Non-Equity Jeff Awards has announced honorees ...


Gay News

'That's Queer, Grandma' June 22-July 6 2020-06-17 - PlayMakers Laboratory ( PML ) celebrates Pride Month virtually with a free presentation of That's Queer, Grandma—a romp through student-written stories that at ...


Gay News

COVID-19 Mercury Theater permanently closing 2020-06-17 - Executive Director L. Walter Stearns and partner, business manager Eugene Dizon, announced the permanent closure of Mercury Theater Chicago after 10 years and ...


 



Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.