*I was invited to the Los Angeles opening night of the three-time Tony Award winning musical Fela! and witnessed a powerful musical presentation of one man’s search for artistic freedom in a militantly run Nigeria. Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was played wonderfully in the musical by Sahr Ngaujah. Presented by Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, the production is currently running at the Center Theater Group’s Ahmanson Theater until January 22, 2012.
Many of Hollywood’s elite showed up for the opening night. I saw Debbie Allen CH Pounder, Bill Bellamy, Thelma Houston, and Jason Alexander – just to name a few. The colorful and technically sophisticated production offered continuous high-energy dancing, which – at times – included the audience.
Breathtaking was the historical back-drop scenery and Sahr it seems is a great and humorous storyteller, as well as actor because he did an outstanding portrayal of Fela. Fela used his music to attack rogue militant officials. Kuti had a very unique talent, because of his American influences, and he was an accomplished singer, horn player and dancer.
The full-house audience at the Ahmanson Theater seemed to be in awe, yet totally enjoying their musical journey through the life of Fela – his music and political passions. Sahr was supported by a stellar cast, that not only could dance, but had voices to equal any America R&B or Pop singer. All this and an incredible wardrobe that took you visually back to Nigeria during the America “black power” revolutionary era.
Fela!, conceived by Bill T. Jones, Jim Lewis and Stephen Hendel, was inspired by an authorized biography, “Fela: This Bitch of a Life,” by Carlos Moore. Starring with Sahr in the Los Angeles production was Adesola Osakalumi, Rasaan-Elijah “Talu” Green, Paulette Ivory, Ismael Kouyate, Melanie Marshall and Gelan Lambert. The music and lyrics are Fela’s, with additional lyrics by Jim Lewis and additional music by Aaron Johnson and Jordan McLean.
Fela! is also produced by Ruth and Stephen Hendel, Fela Broadway, LLC, in association with The National Theatre of Great Britain. To attend this powerfully historic and exhilarating musical production log onto www.CenterTheatreGroup.org.
Ten year-old singing sensation, Ashley Nicole Green, makes final 12 in HUB-TV’s ‘Majors and Minors’ reality show
*HUB-TV’s reality show “Majors and Minors,” which mentors 12 kids ages 10-16 to the completion of a project with one of the 12 walking away with a recording contract and a featured spot on a national tour, airs on Sundays at 7 p.m.PT/10 p.m.ET. Ten year-old singing/acting and dancing sensation Ashley Nicole Green is one of the 12, chosen from a pool of 40,000 admissions. Mentors include Brandy, Leona Lewis, Jennifer Hudson, Jordan Sparks, Will.I.Am, Claude Kelly, Adam Lambert, Avril Lavigne, Ryan Teddy, and Mike Posner.
“I am very proud. I’m having the best time with this,” Ashley said about her experience on “Majors and Minors.” “I never thought of being on television…I dream of being a superstar, but never thought of the logistics.”
You need only talk to Ashley to find out that she has maturity well beyond her age. She is articulate, wise and very humble to be so talented – with a passion you can clearly hear through her powerful vocals.
Judges of “Majors and Minors” that will decide who gets the recording contract include V.P. of BMI Barbara V. Cane, Sr. V.P. of RCA Records Kevin Beisler, CEO of BUG Music Johns Rudolph and President/CEO of HUB-TV Margaret Korsch. “Majors and Minors” premiered November 17, 2011 and will run for 15 weeks.
“Brandy, she pretty much mentored us. She is the person we look up to,” Ashley Nicole added when discussing the major players who came to counsel them. “She is a happy spirited woman who gave us tips.”
Green admitted that the show is a lot harder than she originally thought.
‘It would be wonderful to complete an album. I thought it would be easy,” she pointed out to me. “I been working on this (one) song for three months and I’m still not finished.”
HUB-TV also airs such kid shows as “Transformer Prime,” “My Little Pony,” and “Strawberry Shortcake Berry Bitty Adventures” – just to name a few. The network is a digital and satellite channel launched in 2010 replacing Discovery Kids in a joint venture of Discovery Communications and Hasbro. The programming is geared towards ages 6 – 12.
Syndicated columnist Eunice Moseley highlights ‘The Pulse of Entertainment’ in 2011
*Each year for my syndicated column, The Pulse of Entertainment, I feel blessed to be able to interview such prestigious entertainment industry people, as well as attend events of the same measure – 2011 was no exception. As my interviews and dates to review events come to an end this year, I would like to reflect.
Highlights for 2011 started with an interview with Eric Benet on his album release, “Lost in Time,” which hit the ground running with its’ first single “Sometimes I Cry.” That month also included interviews with Rance Allen (“The Live Experience II” CD/DVD), Rae Dawn Chong (“The Color Purple” Blu-ray/DVD), and Reginald Hudlin (“Black Panther” comic book).
In the weeks and months that followed I attended for review such events as the 42nd NAACP Image Awards, the 2nd Annual ASCAP R&S Grammy Brunch, the David E. Talbert stage-play “What My Husband Doesn’t Know;” the “Men of Soul” tour for Freddie Jackson’s performance; the musical ‘The Color Purple” for the performance of Lil’ Mo; ASCAP I Create Music, where industry people like Jermaine Dupree came to speak; the breath-taking E3 Expo; the Debbie Allen directed play “Twist,” the Gracie Awards, the ASCAP R&S Awards, the BMI Urban Awards, and the BET Awards.
Some other interviews in 2011 included Victoria Rowell (“Of Boys and Men”), Dorinda Clark-Cole (“I Survived”), Cali Swagg District, Joe (“The Good, The Bad, The Sexy”), Jackie Harry (“Ideal Husband”), Tyra Banks (“Modelland”). Sallie Richardson-Whitfield (I Will Follow), Morgan Freeman (Born to be Wild), LisaRaye (“The Real McCoy”), Mint Condition, Tichina Arnold (“Happily Divorced”), Kim Burrell, Aldis Hodges (“Leverage”), Nick Cannon (“America’s Got Talent”), Lester Speight (Transformer 3), Cedric the Entertainment (“It’s Worth What?”), Martha Munizzi, Tocarra (“Ultimate Merger”), Brian McKnight (“Just Me Tour”), Yolanda Adams, Marques Houston (“Somebody Help Me 2”), Donald Lawrence, Ginuwine, Lalah Hathaway, James Reynolds (“Days of Our Lives”), Russell Hornsby (“Grimm”). Jacob Lattimore (“Like Em All”), Robin Givens, Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton (Joyful Noise), Kim Coles, Ledisi, Sheryl Lee Ralph, producer/singer Lonny Bereal, Maysa (“Motions of Love”), and Mary Mary.
Movie screenings for review included (plus interviews with the starring actors) Lion King 3D, Death at a Funeral, The Losers, The Lottery Ticket, Horrible Bosses, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Takers, I Will Follow, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow Pt2, Final Destination 5, Machine Gun Preacher, Happy Feet Two, and New Year’s Eve.
If 2012 is anything close to 2011 then the readers of The Pulse of Entertainment will be just as pleased as me For more on The Pulse of Entertainment – over ½ million total readers each week – log onto www.ThePulseofEntertainment.com.
(Eunice Moseley is a syndicated entertainment columnist, www.ThePulseofEntertainment.com)