Seat Filler: NYC Theater Guide for December 2009

The Advocate’s queen on the NYC theater scene uses his gift receipt to exchange seasonal solo shows for inner-city lesbian tragedy, scenery-chewing divas, Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s muscles, and Broadway’s first high-powered prostate massage.



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Thanks in part to producers Jay-Z and Will Smith, Fela! the new Broadway musical celebrating the life of Nigerian revolutionary Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, has transformed the Eugene O’Neill Theatre into the Shrine, Fela’s infamous Lagos nightclub. There’s a scary, somber edge to the political strife, but Fela! is mostly a colorful rump-shaking tribute to the Afrobeat legend with audience interaction. (Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon gleefully replicated clock-inspired hip thrusts the night I attended.) The bad news: A little Fela goes a long way, so two hours and 40 minutes is a schlep. The drums had nearly lulled me to sleep by the time Fela went to the ultraviolet-lit “other side” to visit his murdered mom, played by the luminous Lillias White — who was Jennifer Holliday’s understudy in Dreamgirls and played Effie in the 1987 revival.

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