Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing Fela! on Broadway. Before I get to how I felt about it, I have to explain my entire view on musicals.
I know there are a lot of people who love musicals; one, because they make so much money, and two, because people often tell me they love musicals. But I don’t really understand why?
After all, so many musicals derive from a “childish” background. They are either related to some cartoon character or some fashionable pop-culture music. So right from the get, musicals aren’t exactly my cup of tea. However, I understand there are more “grown-up” musicals out there, such as Mama Mia and Rent, both musicals I enjoyed to some degree. Still, there is one underlying problem that I have with musicals.
What’s with the depressing stuff after intermission?
I’ve only been to 5 or 6 musicals, so perhaps I’m completely unaware of the grand scope of these things. But after each intermission of each musical I have attended, it always seems as if the story gets unbelievably sad after intermission. This is in spite of the fact, that the majority of people that tell me they like musicals like them because they are so uplifting and “crowd-friendly”—you know, because of all the clapping and singing along that’s possible. However, the musical-lovers I asked about this contradiction contend that the sad parts are really why they like musicals, because often they are so touching and emotional. But to be honest, I don’t think they are any more emotional than other written forms of art, it’s just that “some people” have more of a reaction to music than say the spoken word or even a play or movie.
Basically, I’m against musicals. Not so much that I won’t go see one, but consider me my own personal movie reviewer. Sure, I blast movies left and right, and then turn around and go watch another type of film I don’t like. Not to say I don’t find musicals mildly enjoyable, but they just tend to lack the intellectual complexity of the types of art I like to see.
That being said, Fela! wasn’t all bad. It certainly wasn’t based on a cartoon character. Instead, it was rooted in the biography of Fela Kuti, a Nigerian saxophonist. It more or less detailed his struggles promoting and performing Afrobeat music, which he originated in the musical’s setting in a Lagos-located club called The Shrine. In the musical, “Fela” narrates the story, demonstrates his love for music, and blast a corrupt Nigerian government for taking over his club. The musical also depicts the impact Fela’s mother had on Fela’s life, and plays music from the Fela’s discography. There were some very powerful and funny moments, and I think any musical-lover would appreciate them and the musical as a whole. So go see it if you like musicals. And even if you’re like me, you’re better off seeing this than having never experienced this unique musical at all. Fela also discusses the influence of his mother