Township Fever

THE VILLAGE VOICE, democratic organ of the New York white guilty conscience, showed its usual resourcefulness in a headline it ran last December to kick off an article on the recent musical by the South African playwright, composer, and director Mbongeni Ngema. In a malevolent twist on the production’s name, Township Fever became “Broadway Fever”—telling the magazine’s readers, even before they had read the article, that the most relevant feature of this new work was its author’s desire to repeat the global commercial success of his 1988 musical Sarafina!. For Ngema, the article’s subtitle continued, “freedom is big business.” And the essay itself, by Beth Coleman, pointed out that although the performance was to be presented first at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (lately a pale temple of low-risk, unadventurous experiment), it was intended to move on, like Sarafina!, to a Broadway theater.

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