Michelle Williams and Adesola Osakalumi. (Photo by Carol Rosegg)Winner of three 2010 Tony’s Awards, “Fela!” rocks the stage with its pumped Afrobeat alongside with dazzling dance moves and a timeless message. Now playing at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre, the world tour features the excellent, chrematistic Adesola Osakalumi and the stunning British vocalist Melanie Marshall.

Michelle Williams and Adesola Osakalumi. (Photo by Carol Rosegg)Winner of three 2010 Tony’s Awards, “Fela!” rocks the stage with its pumped Afrobeat alongside with dazzling dance moves and a timeless message. Now playing at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre, the world tour features the excellent, chrematistic Adesola Osakalumi and the stunning British vocalist Melanie Marshall.

Tracing the life story of Fela Anikulapo Kuti (1938-97; played by Osakalumi), the Nigerian performer, musician, politician, activist, director-choreographer Bill T. Jones with book writer Jim Lewis created a show that shakes up the stage.

The musical sets in Fela’s final show at the Shrine, a nightclub located in Lagos, Nigeria. Monologues switch back and forth as Fela starts to retell both his life and music journey.

Raised in a well-educated middle class family in the 30s, Fela gains his vision through the teachings of his mother, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti (played by Marshall who possesses an unbelievable singing voice). The famed Nigerian feminist and political activist influences his son so much that Fela’s outspoken character against the country’s political corruptness later lands him with several arrests and something worst to his family.

Learning his love in music and forming his own groundbreaking music style while traveling to London and Los Angeles, a place where he pairs up with American Black Power leader Sandra Isadore (played by Michelle Williams of Destiny Child), Fela hopes to change with world with music.

In the number, “B.I.D. (Breaking It Down),” it reassembles the layered Afrobeat — the fusing of highlife jazz, psychedelic rock, and traditional African chants and rhythms. It is fun and satisfying. Other numbers such as “Zombie” and “Expensive Shit” also shed a light on the rebellious side of Fela.

While the life of this music legend is so complicated that there is no way to sum up in two hours of show time, the fabulous live band and the energetic dance squad in “Fela!” showcase some of the most ferocious and exciting music and dance moves in Broadway musical, keeping the entire theatre captivated. The music is infectious and the dances are sensational. The witty lines are influential, bold, and profound.

The visually and audibly enjoyable production does not dissect the entire life of Fela, lacking some depth and context, yet it does able to transport the audience back in time to experience the exuberant sounds and to provide us a glimpse of how one man uses his art to fight for change.

 

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