Festival Theatre, Thu Mar 12
The Adelaide Festival audience was treated tonight to the world premiere of the concert version of Fela! about the life of musical legend Fela Kuti.
The full-length Broadway musical version won three Tony Awards in 2010. It revealed the life of an influential Nigerian musician and forefather of Afrobeat as well as a powerful human rights activist. Fela Kuti did not simply have a massive influence with his music and activism in Nigeria, but his influence spread through Africa and the rest of the world.
The concert version tonight is stripped back to let the amazing music, passionate singing and energetic dance shine. There were glimpses of the Fela Kuti’s story through projections of old newspaper clippings and video footage. There was enough to carry the themes for those that already know some of the basic narrative of Fela Kuti’s life.
Adesola Osakalumi brought so much excitement and great vocals in the title role of Fela. He got the Festival Theatre audience on their feet dancing and singing. Supporting Osakalumi onstage were eight absolutely phenomenal dancers and singers. They brought so much skill and an intense amount of energy lifting the already colossal atmosphere from the music to another level. The 10-piece Afrobeat band led by musical director and drummer Greg Gonzale sounded fantastic. They were an absolute pleasure to listen to with huge punches of powerful horns and electric percussion.
The projections and lighting were slight negatives, which could be improved if future concert productions are attempted. Overall, this concert version gives a fantastic, entertaining sample of the music and passion of Fela Kuti.
Fela! The Concert continues at the Festival Theatre until Sat Mar 14.
Book at BASS on 131 241 or bass.net.au. Click HERE to book your tickets
Image courtesy of Shane Reid