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Fela! Hit Broadway for its opening night in NYC Monday evening, and Camel was in attendance sans Bey Bey again…

More Images and NYTimes review for “Fela!” under the hood…

The hot (and seriously cool) energy that comes from the musical gospel preached by the title character of “Fela!,” which opened on Monday night, feels as if it could stretch easily to the borders of Manhattan and then across a river or two. Anyone who worried that Bill T. Jones’s singular, sensational show might lose its mojo in transferring to Broadway can relax.

True, this kinetic portrait of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, a Nigerian revolutionary of song, has taken on some starry producers — including Shawn Carter (Jay-Z) and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith — and shed 15 or 20 minutes since it was staged Off Broadway last year. But it has also acquired greater focus, clarity and intensity. In a season dominated by musical retreads and revivals, “Fela!,” which stars the excellent Sahr Ngaujah and Kevin Mambo (alternating in the title role), throbs with a stirring newness that is not to be confused with novelty. For there has never been anything on Broadway like this production, which traces the life of Fela Kuti (1938-97) through the prism of the Shrine, the Lagos nightclub where Fela (pronounced FAY-lah) reigned not only as a performer of his incendiary songs (which make up most of the score) but also as the self-proclaimed president of his own autonomous republic. The show covers a lot of biographical territory, ranging through the United States as well as Africa, though with far less strain than in its Off Broadway incarnation. Set in the Shrine on the eve of Fela’s planned departure from Nigeria, months after a violent government raid on his compound that left many of his followers wounded and his beloved mother dead, the production shifts between past and present via an assortment of sophisticated theatrical tools (including magical lighting by Robert Wierzel and video design by Peter Nigrini, with top-grade wrap-around sound by Robert Kaplowitz).

But the heart, soul and pelvis of “Fela!” are located most completely in the phalanx of female dancers (I counted nine, but they feel legion) who stand in for the 27 women Fela married. Fela called these beauties his queens, and they are hardly your traditional chorus line. Imperial and exquisitely self-contained, these women never sell themselves with the smiling avidity you’re used to from Broadway dancers. They don’t need to. Their concentrated magnetism draws you right to their sides, whether they’re parading among the audience or wriggling onstage. By the end of this transporting production, you feel you have been dancing with the stars. And I mean astral bodies, not dime-a-dozen celebrities.

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