Biomusical ‘Fela!’ filled with energy

Posted April 3, 2013


Even though the recent weather has been chilly in South Florida, the biomusical “Fela!” adds some heat and spice at the Adrienne Arsht Center.

This show is filled with a lot of energy that can motivate just about anybody to get up out of his or her seat to dance along to the Nigerian rhythms “Fela!” brings.

It highlights the life of Nigerian activist Fela Kuti, who the audience also learns through the show, is a ladies man and an avid pot smoker. But despite some of the negative aspects of his life, he bought together a nation that was under dictatorship rule.

His music was a chance of hope and freedom from the corruption and oppression the people of Nigeria were under at the time.

The star of the show, Tony-nominated Sahr Ngaujah, does the character justice by highlighting how he became the father of Afrobeat, as well as showing the emotional journey that he went through when he contracted the AIDS virus that led to his demise in 1997.

Another notable character is Sandra Isadore, which is Fela’s girlfriend and teacher. A lot of people might recognize the person who plays Sandra because she used to be a former member of Destiny’s Child. Michelle Williams gives a heartfelt performance that would make anybody feel compassion for her character.

Sandra was the push that Kuti needed to get his music celebrated by the masses. Without her, Kuti would not have gone as far as he did.

For two and a half hours, the audience is taken to a world filled with African beats set in Nigeria. With an infusion of jazz and funk, it was the perfect mix of rhythms to keep the audience engaged at all times.

The ambiance of the show also kept the audience engaged with its bright colorful lights that blended with the various colorful and bright costumes the cast wore. The typical African dances were fun to experience since it bought so much energy to the show.

The success of the show can also be attributed to its producers who are very notable in the music industry and Hollywood. Some of the producers of this show include 17-time Grammy winning rapper Jay-Z and power couple Will and Jada Pinkett Smith. The director, Bill T. Jones, also shows his best work in “Fela!”

Jones, who was born in Florida, moved to New York for high school and studied classical ballet and modern dance at Binghamton University. He created his own dance company, as well as having done choreography for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

“Fela!” started on Off-Broadway in 2008 and made it to Broadway in 2009. And because of its growing success, it allowed Jones to win the Tony Award for Best Choreography as well as the Lucile Lortel Award as Outstanding Choreographer.

Jones has won many other awards but some of the more notable ones was being one of the five recipients for the 2010 Kennedy Center Honors.

The show is currently on a world tour and will be making more stops in Ohio, Arizona, Texas, Washington, and California. If you didn’t get a chance to see it in Miami, make a trip to one of the cities it is showing at. “Fela!” will not disappoint.

  • Show: “Fela!”
  • Where: Adrienne Arsht Center
  • 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, Fla. 33132
  • Cast: Michelle Williams as Sandra Isadora, Sahr Ngaujah as Fela Kuti
  • Producers: Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith
  • Director: Bill T. Jones
  • When: March 19-24, 2013
  • Parking: Self-Parking is $15 and there is also valet parking that can be bought in advance at 305-949-6722.
  • Website: