That gives you an idea of the style of the performance – it's a very, very excitable musical, using much of Fela's own music – but it doesn't give a full impression of the themes. As well as being a trailblazing and inventive musician, Fela Kuti was also a highly political man – at one stage he campaigned to be the President of Nigeria – and this show follows his colourful life. Make that very colourful. In rousing technicolour.
The show focuses on a time in Fela's life after the coining of the word Afrobeat, but before the Presidential campaign, when he'd created his own micro-political state, in a commune which held his famous nightclub: 'The Shrine'. As you might imaging this in itself was considered a provocative political statement, so 1000 government soldiers were sent to 'sort him out'. So expect to feel a lot more than just the powerful, stirring rhythms.
Last year Fela! was on at The National Theatre, but Sadlers Wells is a much more suitable venue for this exuberant dance-y musical. The role of Fela in this production is played by Sahr Ngaujah, who was nominated for a Tony Award when he played Fela on Broadway. The choreography is by Bill T. Jones – who you might be familiar with if you move in contemporary dance circles – and who also directed and co-wrote the show.