Slow, repetitive, boring. Easily one of the poorest show I have ever seen at Sadler's - Mateo
01 Aug 11
We really enjoyed this and, from reading the comments here it strikes me that musical theatre fans are rather too conservative. This is something different and refreshing after all those Sondheim and Lloyd Webber clone musicals that we've seen in recent years. Ignore the negative comments, go with an open mind and you'll find a refreshingly different show with excellent choreography, singing, musicianship and lighting. My partner is a Classic FM fan and even he was wiggling his butt in the aisle! - Diane
16 Jan 11
After thirty five minutes of arse wiggling and repetitive pelvic thrusts, to what seemed the same tune, a golden opportunity arose. Fela, played by the alternate Fela, Rolan Bell, told us all to stand....and with that we ran! OK so this can't be a fair appraisal as we missed the other TWO bloody hours, but I had seen enough by then and looking now at the comments on WOS I'm thankful I did. I look forward to the day when we get modern dramas, and musicals, that aren't hitched to some stereotypical image of blacks? Come get writing! - rds
05 Jan 11
Well, I’ve been to the Olivier Theatre many times over the last 30 years, but it’s never felt like this. Designer Marina Draghici has done a great job bringing to it the essence of Fela’s Nigerian nightclub with giant banners & projections, corrugated iron and above all colour. You could hear the sound of the extraordinary band before you entered the theatre and when you did, the stage was full of dancers. Fela’s story is a fascinating one, but its told here as a biographical monologue inside an afrobeat concert. There is really only one character, and that’s the crux of the problem with the show. You learn more about Fela’s life reading the programme and the show just adds the music and dancing – wonderful music and dancing (though in truth it does become a bit monotonous), but music and dancing alone don’t make a fully formed musical. Sahr Ngaujah’s performance as Fela is mesmerizing, so much so that the talented supporting cast hardly get a look in. The band is absolutely brilliant, helped by Robert Kaplowitz perfect sound design. There’s much to enjoy and it’s more than a jukebox musical, but there isn’t enough characterisation or narrative depth for a piece of musical theatre. Go for the music, colour and the energy of it all.
It doesn’t really need the NT – it could easily survive in the commercial sector – and the NT doesn’t need it – though this clearly does bring in a new audience, the NT has done much to bring in this audience before. It’s not the first time the Olivier stage has been full of black talent in recent years – Emperor Jones, Death & The Kings Horsemen and Welcome to Thebes. I think their resources would be better used nurturing and showcasing new British musical theatre, which they haven’t done since Jerry Springer – The Opera.
- Gareth James
06 Dec 10
So Bill T JOnes is a fantastic choreographer, and for me, the only draw to this production. I don't really care for Fella's music, or rather, i don't really see why he was so important to the development of black music in the 70's/80's. The music is something that i that perpetually plays in stoned students houses, and actually has that effect on you. The first half (an excruciating hour and a half) is engineered to make you feel like you've toked on the largest amount of weed you could possibly imagine. The repetitive music, the hypnotic dancing and the general lazy tone are all indicative of this. The second half like an adrenaline rush/wake up call. Clever as that is, it cant disguise the fact that the show is about a petulant idiot who enslaved, married and infected countless women with HIV. However this goes unmentioned and the brutality of the African regime is what Fella was actually fighting against. It's hopelessly one sided, and even Ugandan friends of mine looked confused when we told them there was a music theatre piece about his life. 'Why?' was there question. Why indeed, i have no answres other than desparation to find another black role model. Aren't there more interesting people than this?
THis is a VERY long show and not what i expected (the reviews make it sound like it sparkles like a jem in the rough of other shows) when in fact, it's very slow and verges (hilariously) on campery in the 'UV dream sequence'. Panto-HO!!
I understand why the national did this, because it would last 3 seconds in the west end, and Bill T is great. However this is a production that shows off the talents of the artists, not the subject matter. I'll be glad when it's gone.
01 Dec 10
The set and atmosphere was fantastic. They had the African band playing on stage as people took their seats. However I became hugely frustrated when the show didn't kick off on time with no explanations given. In fact 15 minutes late starting as people casually walked in well after advertised curtain up time without a care in the world.
I found the show pretty juvenile in script and hardly intelligible (there is a screen where the words come up - an acknowledgement of my point indeed - but you can't see it if you're at the back of the circle). And the music and songs quickly becomes repetitive. The final nail in the coffin for me was the audience participation whereby everyone was ordered to take to their feet to learn how to do an African dance which seemed to go on for ages. This was more akin to the evening entertainment in a Butlins holiday centre - nothing like a the expected quality production I'd expect in one of the capital cities biggest theatres.
Sorry, Fela was a stinker and I'd only give it one star for the colourful set.
- James - Kent
29 Nov 10
Have not seen this one but just back from New York and saw it there with Patti LaBelle in the cast. I found it far too long and a bit boring and the music was too repetitive. - Joe
24 Nov 10
Who thought this was a good idea? Enforced fun and a boring, simplistic, lecture interspersed with some good music and dancing. Suitable only for the 'Jerry Springer' crowd it drew in NY. - Joesmith
24 Nov 10
The Olivier looks amazing and the show starts off dynamically with an amazing central performance and funky dancing and choreography. However, this hagiography outstays its welcome in never really exploring the character of Fela, and sidesteps the more unpleasant aspects of his sexual politics. - Lostmarples
21 Nov 10
Saw this on the first night preview with very over excited production staff sitting behind us whooping along and trying hard to get the audience in the mood. Unfortunately we found this production rather boring with very repetitive music, too loud and far too long, although there were some interesting moments. Unless you really are a fan of Aro-beat I would not recommend this and I would not see it again even if I was offered a free ticket. - ils
19 Nov 10
The show was invigorating, full of energetic dance and an insight into a corrupt African. - Nina
17 Nov 10
Intermittently rousing, overlong but never less than watchable, this well staged show benefits hugely from the presence of the magnetic Sahr Ngaujah as Fela, and he is superbly supported by Paulette Ivory and the terrific ensemble. Much as I was impressed by Bill T.Jones' choreography, the story telling is confusing and Act Two really outstays it's welcome. Maybe it worked better in NYC? This is worth seeing but perhaps not without Ngaujah (check which perfs he isn't doing before booking). - ajh
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