Tag Archives: Bill T. Jones

Femi Kuti kicks off the final week of Midsummer Night Swing at Lincoln Center Out of Doors

Femi Kuti

Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? has been distracted this summer. There’s been a lot going on, musically speaking, around NYC and environs so far. As a result, we’ve neglected our friends at Midsummer Night Swing at Lincoln Center.

But on Monday night, the start of MNS’s final week  for 2010 — hard to believe — Femi Kuti & The Positive Force are taking over Damrosch Park. And we can’t fail you this time. Even if you think you can’t dance, you should be at this show. It’s hard not to at least feel like you can dance when Femi Kuti takes the stage. His version of Afrobeat — he’s one of Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s two musical sons, the other being Seun Kuti who inherited his father’s band Egypt 80 — has an insistent beat and a joyous feel that can get anyone to dance. (Fela Kuti, you may recall, is the subject of the fantastic Broadway musical, Fela!, directed by Bill T. Jones.)

The fun starts at 6:30 p.m. with a dance lesson with Sahr Ngaujah, star Fela!, and the music starts at 7. Tickets are $17 and available at Damrosch Park, at West 62nd Street and Amsterdam Avenue, or online. And there are more shows throughout the week: Catherine Russell and Cat & The Hounds Swing Band on Wednesday, Loser’s Lounge Ladies Night on Thursday, La Exelencia on Friday and, wrapping up this year’s dance season, a kids’ dance party at 3 p.m. Saturday followed by the Harlem Renaissance Orchestra on Saturday evening.

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Where does Fela! go from here?

Sahr Ngaujah onstage as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.

Sahr Ngaujah onstage as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.

The off-Broadway smash muscical focusing on the life and music of Afrobeat originator Fela is inching toward a future run. Auditions were held on Monday for the three principal roles in Fela! — Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the title character, Funmilayo, his mother, and Sandra Isidore, the love interest who changes Fela’s life.

The show, conceived, directed and choreographed by Bill T. Jones, will audition dancers, singers and percussionists next week.

There are still more questions than answers about the future of Fela. The contract period for this Fela! developmental project runs from June 15 to July 3, with the expectation of a move to a Broadway house or similar venue in the fall.

But for now, the show’s production team is playing things close to the vest. Asked by Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? about the future of the show, a spokesman says:

“At this date, there is nothing to report about the future Fela! If/when anything becomes official, I’ll let you know.”

One key question is there’s a chance that the fantastic Sahr Ngaujah (say it Sah EN-gow-jah) will reprise his spectacular performance in the title role. Sahr talks about playing the larger-than-life Fela in this interview: