The return engagement of the award-winning production Fela! is set to close after 32 performances at Broadway's Al Hirschfeld Theatre tonight, August 4.
Exploring the extravagant world of Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti, this provocative hybrid of dance, theatre, music, biography and a party like no-other is directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Bill T. Jones, with a book by Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones. The world renowned Antibalas and other members of the NYC Afrobeat community, under the direction of AaRon Johnson, again perform Kuti’s rousing music live onstage.
Recipient of three 2010 Tony Awards (Best Choreography, Best Costumes, Best Sound Design), Fela!, featuring the music and lyrics by Fela Kuti, was conceived by Bill T. Jones, Jim Lewis and Stephen Hendel, features additional lyrics by Jim Lewis, and additional music by AaRon Johnson and Jordan McLean. The musical is inspired by the authorized biography Fela: This Bitch of a Life by Carlos Moore.
Fela! is based on the life of Fela Kuti, who created Afrobeat—a blend of jazz, funk and African rhythm and harmonies—and mixed these sensual eclectic rhythms with simple but powerful lyrics that openly assailed Nigeria’s corrupt and oppressive dictatorships. Featuring a combined cast of the original Broadway production and the Royal National Theatre production all under Bill T. Jones’s staging, Fela! reveals Kuti's life as an artist and human rights activist and celebrates his pioneering music.
Olivier and Tony Award-nominated actor Sahr Ngaujah* leads the cast of Fela! He is joined by Melanie Marshall and Paulette Ivory, the two stellar female stars of the Olivier-nominated National Theatre of Great Britain production. This touring production is a once in a lifetime experience, a glorious amalgam of the original casts of both Broadway and London’s Royal National Theatre. (*At certain performances, the title role was played by Adesola Osakalumi and Duain Martyn.)
Just before completing its 14-month, award-winning run on Broadway, Fela! simultaneously played a sold-out 9-week engagement at The National Theatre of Great Britain, becoming the first broadway show ever to both perform on the National's prestigious Olivier stage and to be featured on NTLive, where a National Theatre performance was screened in more than 400 cinemas in 20 countries.
Following that success, the production traveled to Lagos, Nigeria where it became the first Broadway show in history to play in Africa with its original cast. An acclaimed run during the 2011 Holland Festival followed, winning praise from Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, then Fela! returned to London for a summer run at Saddler's Wells. While back in London, members of the company performed for Prince Charles at a reception at St James’s Palace.
In September 2011, Fela! returned to the United States, opening in Washington, DC and went on to play hit runs in several cities including San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta and a six-week sold-out engagement at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. After this summer’s return to Broadway, Fela! will continue its world tour with stops in Australia, Japan, a return to Africa, a reprise engagement at the Ahmanson in May 2013 followed by the Chekov Festival (Moscow, Russia) in June 2013 and numerous other cities around the world still to be announced.