Fela! Ends Off-Broadway Engagement Oct. 5

News   Fela! Ends Off-Broadway Engagement Oct. 5 Fela!, the new musical based on the life of groundbreaking African composer and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti, ends its extended limited engagement Oct. 5 at Off-Broadway's 37 Arts.
Fela! star Sahr Ngaujah.
Fela! star Sahr Ngaujah. Photo by Monique Carboni

The acclaimed production, which was originally scheduled to run through Sept. 21, was extended an extra two weeks due to popular demand. Curtain time for the final performance is 3 PM.

Although there has been speculation that Fela! might transfer to Broadway, there has been no official announcement. Producers Ruth and Stephen Hendel and Roy Gabay told Playbill.com that they are "thrilled with the success of the Off-Broadway run, and honored by the acclaim and support given to it from music and theatre lovers all over the world." They're "studying various opportunities to remount the production, and will hopefully have news to report about that in the near future."

Bill T. Jones, who won a 2007 Tony Award for his Spring Awakening choreography, directs and choreographs the production, which began previews July 29 and officially opened Sept. 4.

Fela! features a book by Jones and Jim Lewis and utilizes Kuti's own music performed live by Antibalas and other members of the New York Afrobeat community. Lewis, a Tony nominee for Chronicle of a Death Foretold, has also penned additional lyrics.

The cast includes Sahr Ngaujah as Fela and Abena Koomson as Fela's mother with Anne Andre, Corey Baker, Calvin C. Booker, Lauren Deveaux, Nicole Chantal DeWeever, Rujeko Dumbutshena, Aimee Graham, Talu Green, Karma Mayet Johnson, Ismael Kouyate, Maia McKinney, Marcus Phillips, Daniel Soto, Sparlha Swa, Jill M. Vallery and Iris Wilson. In Fela!, press notes state, "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), [the musical] explores Kuti's controversial life as artist, political activist and revolutionary musician."

The design team comprises scenic and costume designer Marina Draghici, lighting designer Rob Wierzel, sound designer Rob Kaplowitz and projection designer Peter Negrini. Musical director is Aaron Johnson.

37 Arts is located in Manhattan at 450 West 37th Street at Tenth Avenue. For more information go to www.FelaOffBroadway.com.

<i>Fela!</i>
Fela! Photo by Monique Carboni