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 2019-11-13
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos 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

THEATER REVIEW Rutherford and Son 2019-11-16 - Playwright: Githa Sowerby At: Timeline Theatre Company at Baird Hall, 615 W. Wellington Ave. Tickets: TimelineTheatre.com and 773-281-8463; $42. Runs through: Jan. 12 ...


Gay News

Opera Review Don Giovanni 2019-11-15 - Score: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Libretto: Lorenzo Da Ponte At: Lyric Opera of Chicago, 20 N. Wacker Drive. Tickets: 312-827-5600 or LyricOpera.org; $39-$299.. Runs ...


Gay News

THEATER SPOTLIGHT Always … Patsy Cline 2019-11-15 - Back then, stars traveled without entourages, stayed at motels, flew single engine planes and were easier to meet. Houston housewife Louise Seger met ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Packing 2019-11-13 - Playwright: Scott Bradley At: About Face Theatre at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. Tickets: 773-975-8150 or AboutFaceTheatre.com; $20-$38. Runs through Dec. 7 ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Romeo and Juliet 2019-11-13 - Playwright: William Shakespeare At: Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave. Tickets: ChicagoShakes.com 312-595-5600; $35-$90. Runs through: Dec. 22 ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW P.Y.G. or The Mis-Edumacation of Dorian Belle 2019-11-13 - Playwright: Tearrance Arvelle Chisolm At: Jackalope Theatre Company @ Broadway Armory Park, 5917 N. Broadway. Tickets: JackalopeTheatre.org; $27-$35. Runs through: Dec. 21 ...


Gay News

Critics' Picks 2019-11-13 - The Effect, Strawdog Theatre Company, through Nov. 23: Is love in the brain or in the mind, playwright Lucy Prebble asks, and can ...


Gay News

THEATER SPOTLIGHT Sombras Tango Cabaret 2019-11-13 - It's a short run for Sombras Tango Cabaret, only through this weekend, but it promises to be exotic and colorful with the sensuality ...


Gay News

THEATER FEATURE New York theater gets political 2019-11-13 - For the first time in two years, I was in New York City recently to see some theater. I chose three highly political ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Out singer, 'Hamilton,' 'Sense8,' Dolly Parton, Shangela 2019-11-12 - LGBT singer Michael Longoria released a music video for "Kiss Me ( Like They Do In The Movies )," an original song written ...


 



Copyright © 2019 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
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos 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.