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Sarafina! Reviews

A musical about political struggle in South Africa, SARAFINA! is a curiously lifeless filmed version of an invigorating stageshow. We follow the title character (Leleti Khumalo), an idealistic black schoolgirl, on a painful journey from innocent teenager to revolutionary, against the backdrop of the 1976 student uprisings. She and her schoolmates are radicalized after the arrest of their activist teacher (Whoopi Goldberg) and a bloody assault on the school by vicious black policemen in the service of the white government. As pure drama, SARAFINA! works pretty well. But the musical chorus numbers interspersed throughout the narrative aren't well staged or shot. Despite appealing and talented performers, songs that worked beautifully on Broadway consistently fall flat here.