The club is set in Lagos, Nigeria in the 1970s. It is Fela’s last performance at his beloved club as he prepares to leave his home country. Fela is played by Sahr Ngaujah, a role he shares with Kevin Mambo. Ngaujah’s talent is astonishing and his energy unending. Throughout the show he picks up a saxophone and even a trumpet and plays them. At least that’s what I believed until well after the show. It turns out he doesn’t play the instruments but you would never know.
The cast of Fela!
Photo: Monique Carboni
Ngaujah is joined onstage by an equally talented cast. As Fela’s first wife (he ultimately married 27 women in a ceremony in 1987) Saycon Sengbloh gives a dynamic performance as do the other women representing Kuti’s other wives, or queens as he calls them. Each of these woman has created a unique character that is as organic as the piece itself. Hanging off of one of the boxes house right is a portrait of Fela’s mother. Fela is watched over by his mother as the painting comes to life. She is also manifest in an ethereal and lovely performance by Tony Award winner Lillias White.
Fela! has been deftly directed and choreographed by Bill T. Jones, a Tony Award winner for Spring Awakening. In addition to an outstanding cast, he has also assembled a crack design team that has created an astonishingly beautiful set that comes together through the scenic and costume design of Marina Draghici, the lighting design of Robert Wierzel and the mesmerizing projections of Peter Nigrini. Not to be outdone the wig and hair by Cookie Jordan completes the look.
Unfortunately this is a musical that could quickly disappear because it doesn’t appeal to a wide enough audience and doesn't develop an audience quickly enough. Open your hearts and your minds. Don’t miss this spectacular theatrical experience. You won’t regret it and you’ll never forget it.
Read full production credits at the Internet Broadway Database.