Cultural Critique: FELA! on Broadway. Wish you could have been there with me Mom.

dear readers,

friday night, may 7, bright lights big city outside the eugene o’neil theater, regal families high stepping, we all bout to go see FELA!, the jay-z and jada financed broadway phenom. i’m leaning on the wall, waiting on my girl, my dress is fitted, thigh high leg warmers over the black heels. a woman i don’t know presses a second row ticket in my hand. lucky girl, im in demand. fela kuti’s second wife, sandra, sat right near me, her hair flowing out across the audience. go see the show, it is steeped in legacy, an extension of the fela family, sure to sweep the tony’s. but if you can’t make it, i’ll take you with me.

opening sequence of FELA!

the eugene o’neil theater is head to toe doused in african flag hues, this is the shrine. it is fela’s last night here. the government goons killed his mother, and it is his journey back to her that frames the narrative of this tony award nominee. the show is multi-media, the audience is up dancing, live, we are live, despite death’s sure lurk in dark corners. fela yearns for his mother, an ancestral flashback sequence takes us to, all white in the blacklit, yoruba police stick, his head, her lap, her song, fight back.

a flame can birth a thousand other flames
light one candle burn down the night with her name
they killed fela’s mother
he would never be the same
flame don’t stop dancing though
cuz that’s how the game go

FELA! dance montage:

on the radio they tell me
as a woman i am two main things
underneath him or a debt ridden consumer of bling
when fela sing
african progress
the song made me think
of the price we pay for self-esteem
which is free, no government can give me
no company can make me
only i have the power to take pride in the mirror she

FELA! revolution montage:

john lennon wailed
momma, you had me
but i didn’t have you
that i can understand
deal me a hand
ima play as long as i can
fela kuti was the man
art our last stand
grind on the bandstand
moms this ones for you
clap clapping in a handstand

stay tuned for more,
roopa singh

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