Fela! May Return To Its Roots

News   Fela! May Return To Its Roots
 
Fela!, the musical based on the life and music of groundbreaking African composer Fela Anikulapo Kuti, may play Lagos, Nigeria, the hometown of the late composer.

The New York Times reports that lead producer and co-creator of the musical Stephen Hendel promised members of Kuti’s family that Fela! will one day play Lagos.

“We’re in the process of trying to make arrangements to do so,” Hendel told the Times. “No Broadway show has ever been to Nigeria in this fashion. It’s premature to announce anything, but it’s our hope to bring the show there soon.”

Plans are also underway to broadcast the National Theatre production of the musical in Lagos.

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The acclaimed musical, recipient of three 2010 Tony Awards, including Best Choreography, played its final performance at Broadway's Eugene O'Neill Theatre Jan. 2 at 7:30 PM. Upon closing, the musical played 34 previews and 463 regular performances. After an acclaimed run Off-Broadway in 2008, Fela! began previews on Broadway Oct. 19, 2009. The closing cast of the musical based on the life and music of groundbreaking African composer Fela Anikulapo Kuti featured Kevin Mambo in the title role with Grammy winner Patti LaBelle.

On Nov. 16, 2010, Fela! opened at the Royal National Theatre in London, starring Sahr Ngaujah, who originated the title role on Broadway. An international tour of Fela! is currently being booked by Margaret Selby of CAMI Spectrum and Gary McAvay of CAMI Theatricals; dates will be announced shortly.

Tony-winning Spring Awakening choreographer Bill T. Jones directs and choreographs the production that features a book by Jones and Jim Lewis and utilizes Anikulapo-Kuti's own music. Lewis, a Tony nominee for Chronicle of a Death Foretold, also penned additional lyrics. The musical was conceived by Bill T. Jones, Jim Lewis and Stephen Hendel.

The production incorporates the Afrobeat orchestra Antibalas and other members of the NYC Afrobeat community, under the direction of Aaron Johnson, who perform Kuti's music live onstage.

In Fela!, according to production notes, "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 includes scenic and costume designer Marina Draghici, lighting designer Rob Wierzel, sound designer Rob Kaplowitz and projection designer Peter Nigrini. Aaron Johnson and Jordan McLean will provide musical arrangements.

The musical, which earned the 2008 Lucille Lortel honor for Best Musical, played an acclaimed engagement at the now-closed 37 Arts in 2008. 37 Arts was also the birthplace of the Tony-winning musical In the Heights.

Fela! is produced by Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, Will & Jada Pinkett Smith, Ruth & Stephen Hendel, Roy Gabay, Edward Tyler Nahem, Slava Smolokowski, Chip Meyrelles/Ken Greiner, Steve Semlitz/Cathy Glazer, Daryl Roth/True Love Productions, Knitting Factory Entertainment and Susan Dietz. In association with Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson.

Fela! won three 2010 Tony Awards: Best Costume Design, Best Sound Design and Best Choreography.

Visit FelaonBroadway.com.

Kevin Mambo and the women of <I>Fela!</I>
Kevin Mambo and the women of Fela!
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