On 116th Street from Frederick Douglass Blvd to Lenox Avenue, there is always African music playing throughout the various stores. The music plays just right, not loud. It’s pleasant enough to where you notice and say to yourself, is that Fela! music I hear? If you live or have walked along this portion of Harlem before, you know exactly what I am talking about. It’s this Harlem experience along 116th Street that sparked an interest for me to go see Fela!-the Broadway musical.
I ventured down to the Eugene O’Neill Theater to see the show about legend Kuti in its first week of opening. All I can say right off the top is “this is not your standard musical.” This show ain’t no Mary Poppins or Lion King – quite the contrary. Fela! is a show where you will find yourself saying “yeah, yeah” or moving your hips to three o’clock and nine o’clock at the instruction of the lead actor or wanting to dance or stare in awe at the dancers and their AMAZING bodies. The dancers are spectacular! When you see the show, you will know what I mean by all these descriptions.
The creme de la creme of Fela! is the lead actor, who sings, dances and plays two different musical instruments, the trumpet and saxophone, in the show. The lead actor sings and plays the saxophone most of the time. The evening I went Sahr Ngaujah was the lead and watching Sahr was pure enjoyment. However, don’t take my word for it. I am just a blogger from Harlem. Read the reviews in New York Magazine about Fela! and decide for yourself. But do take my word that elements of Fela’s music are alive and well along 116th Street in Harlem. See you at the Shrine!