According to Playbill.com, the critically acclaimed Off Broadway musical Fela will receive a workshop this summer to allow the creators to reshape their material and determine whether the show should receive a commercial transfer.
There was a good deal of talk about transferring the show directly to Broadway after its limited engagement at the 37 Arts complex last fall, but apparently creators Bill T. Jones and Jim Lewis decided to take a step back and reconsider the material.
This is a very wise move, at least from where I sit. When I saw the show, I was struck by Jones's spirited choreography and the dynamic performance of Sahr Ngaujah as the eponymous Fela, but I found the work as a whole rather inert. It essentially comprised one long monologue/concert, a form that didn't do justice to the colorful life and work of Fela Anikulapo Kuti. But there were the bones of a very compelling work evident in the production, and I'm certainly open to the possibility that Jones and Lewis can find a way to make it work.
I'll definitely see the show again, if it makes a commercial transfer. Heck, if I can give Next to Normal a second chance, I can do no less for Fela. And speaking of Next to Normal, there appears to be someone out there who's trying to give N2N librettist Brian Yorkey a bad name. Based possibly on the spirited interchange that Yorkey and I have had over the past few months regarding my mostly negative review of his show when I saw it at the Second Stage, someone seems to have acquired an E-mail address in Yorkey's name and started leaving vulgar and explosive comments on arts Web sites (check out this review of N2N on popdose.com) and blogs.
A few days ago, I received an offensive comment on my blog, supposedly from Yorkey, in response to a mention that I made about N2N receiving mostly positive reviews. But I noticed that the E-mail address didn't match the one I had from Yorkey's numerous missives to me. I asked Yorkey if he actually made the comment, and he said no, and he set his publicist (and, presumably, lawyers) on the task of hunting down the impostor. I'm seeing Next to Normal again on Thursday night, and I hope to go in with an open mind. So, if someone has been trying to prejudice me against the show, that person has failed.
Is it possible that Yorkey is lying to me? Sure, but based on our increasingly collegial interchange, I'm willing to give him, and his show, the benefit of the doubt.