Fela!, the new musical based on the life and music of groundbreaking African composer, performer and activist Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, will arrive on Broadway at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre (230 West 49th Street) where performances will commence on Monday, October 19 with an official opening set for Monday, November 23. This new musical is directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Bill T. Jones (Spring Awakening), with a book by Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones.
Sahr Ngaujah and Kevin Mambo will play the title character on alternate performances, while the world renowned Antibalas and other members of the New York City Afrobeat community, under the direction of Aaron Johnson, will again perform Kuti’s rousing music live onstage. Winner of this year’s Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical, Fela! was conceived by Bill T. Jones, Jim Lewis and Stephen Hendel. Fela! had its world premiere at Off-Broadway’s 37 Arts in September 2008, where it enjoyed a sold-out limited run.
In this revolutionary new musical, directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Bill T. Jones with a book by Jim Lewis, audiences are welcomed into the extravagant, decadent and rebellious world of Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Using his pioneering music (a blend of jazz, funk and African rhythm and harmonies), Fela! exploresKuti’s controversial life as artist, political activist and revolutionary musician. Featuring many of Fela Kuti‘s most captivating songs and Bill T. Jones’s imaginative staging, Fela! is a provocative hybrid of concert, dance and musical theater.
Fela! will feature a multi-cultural cast led by Sahr Ngaujah (recipient of an Obie Award for his performance in the title role Off-Broadway) and Kevin Mambo (MTC’s Ruined), alternating in the role of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Lillias White will play Funmilayo Ransome Kuti (Fela’s mother) and Saycon Sengbloh (Hair) plays Sandra, Kuti’s love interest. The company also includes Corey Baker, Hettie Barnhill, Nicole Chantal DeWeever, Lauren Deveaux, Elasea Douglas, Rujeko Dumbutshena, Catherine Foster, Talu Green, Shaneeka Harrell, Abena Koomson, Ismael Kouyate, Gelan Lambert, Farai M. Malianga, Shakira Marshall, Afi McClendon, Adesola Osakalumi, Jeffrey Page, Daniel Soto, Jill M. Vallery, J.L. Williams, Iris Wilson, Aimee Graham Wodobode. Scenic and costume design is by Marina Draghici, lighting design is by Rob Wierzel, sound design is by Rob Kaplowitz and projection design is by Peter Nigrini. Musical arrangements and additional music by Aaron Johnson and Jordan McLean, and Jim Lewis provided additional lyrics.
Fela! is produced by Stephen & Ruth Hendel, Roy Gabay, Edward Tyler Nahem, Chip Meyrelles/Ken Greiner and Daryl Roth/True Love Productions.
Performances will begin on October 19 at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre (230 West 49th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue) with an official opening set for Monday, November 23.
Tickets for Fela! on Broadway are available through www.Telecharge.com or by calling (212) 239-6200. The Eugene O’Neill Box Office opens Monday, September 28 at 10am.
For more info on Fela! and Fela Kuti, please visit www.felaonbroadway.com.
Author: World Music Central News Department
World music news from the editors at World Music Central