On Tuesday, October 23, “Fela!” celebrated its one-year anniversary on Broadway. The hit musical (which won three 2010 Tony Awards, including Best Choreography for Bill T. Jones, who also directed the spectacular production) is currently running through January 2, 2011, at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre (230 West 49th Street) in New York City.

Commenting on this milestone, producer Stephen Hendel said, “Seven years ago, when Bill T. Jones and I met to discuss putting the life and music of Fela Kuti on stage, Broadway was only a dream. Now, celebrating the one-year anniversary of “Fela!” on Broadway…that dream has become an extraordinary reality. It’s been thrilling to witness diverse audiences from around the world–avid theater fans as well as those new to Broadway–and just last week, First Lady Michelle Obama got swept up by this inspirational story and irresistible music.”

In celebration of the one-year anniversary, several colleagues and I attended the landmark anniversary show, and like Mrs. Obama, the group was completely mesmerized. Inclusive was the trailblazing film producer, Grace Blake, whose filmography credits include “Beloved,” “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Boomerang,” “The Wiz,” “Prizzi’s Honor,” “Lean on Me” and “Who’s The Man?” Also in attendance was the Honorable Mr. Derek James, consul general of the Consulate General of Grenada in New York. Shinehead, the reggae-fusion pioneer, was also a part of our party. Shine (as close friends call him) is credited as one of the first artists to mix rapping and deejaying in his songs on such ground-breaking albums as “Ruff and Rugged” (African Love Music, 1986), as well as the following albums on the Electra label: “Unity” (1988), “Sidewalk University” (1993) and “Troddin’” (1994).

Commenting on the show, Shinehead, a man of few words (except when he is deejaying) said, “‘Fela!’ is vividly enlightening.” Discussing her “Fela!” experience, Grace Blake remarked, “In one word, I would say ‘Fela!’ is phenomenal! You just want to keep dancing.” She also commented about the sub-theme of one of the story lines–that of Fela’s music coming to life after he passed on. Blake pointed out that, “Unfortunately this is what happens so often.” For her closing comments, Blake proclaimed: “Everybody should go see this show!”

The Honorable Mr. Derek James said: “Afro-Caribbean people should see ‘Fela!’ because it reminds us of our history and the struggle our ancestors have been through.” The Consul General was especially moved by Fela’s strong faith, leading him to comment that, “spirituality provides energy to keep moving on a daily basis.”

Later, thanks to our mutual friend the incomparable Noel Mignott, our group was joined by Derede Samuel Whitlock, director USA, Antigua & Barbuda Department of Tourism, and her colleagues from Antigua, Valerie Harris-Pole, executive assistant to the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, and her husband, Conrad Pole, general manager, Antigua Pier Group. The Poles commented: “‘Fela!’ was fantastic.”

Derede Samuel Whitlock summed up the “Fela!” experience by saying: “‘Fela!’ was a cultural explosion! There were times when I thought I was in the Caribbean and then I was transplanted to a wonderland that fused all of the elements that make Pan-African culture so strong. “It was a wonderful experience, so familiar, yet so enlightening.”

Fela Count Down to Broadway Closing

The countdown is on, New York! “Fela!” will close January 2, 2011. Please don’t say I did not tell you! Be like Mrs. Obama and go and see “Fela!” NOW. “Fela!” tickets are the perfect holiday gift for teens and adults on your list. Order your tickets today! Tickets for “Fela!” on Broadway are available through www.telecharge.com, by calling (212) 239-6200 or at The Eugene O’Neill box office.

To contact the Africa Sings!!! Group please email: africasings@gmail.com