Ngaujah earned a 2009 Obie Award for creating the role of Anikulapo-Kuti when Fela! premiered Off-Broadway at 37 Arts in 2008. He subsequently repeated his work on Broadway in 2009 (alternating with Kevin Mambo), as well as in London and in a special Nigerian engagement of the musical.
He is currently starring in the West End encore run of Fela! at the Sadler's Wells Theatre through Aug. 28 and will bring his performance back to American audiences beginning Sept. 13 for a Washington, DC run presented by Shakespeare Theatre. It plays there to Oct. 9.
The Atlanta, GA native will also bring his performance to his hometown Oct. 11-16 at the Atlanta Civic Center. Additional tour stops for Fela! include New Haven, CT (Oct. 20-23 at the Shubert Theatre); San Francisco, CA (Nov. 15-Dec. 11 at the Curran Theatre); Detroit, MI (Feb. 14-March 4, 2012 at Music Hall); Philadelphia, PA (March 20-25, 2012, at the Kimmel Center); and Los Angeles, CA (April 25-June 3, 2012, at the Ahmanson Theatre).
Additional casting for the tour will be announced shortly.
Tony Award winner Bill T. Jones (Spring Awakening) directed and choreographed Fela!, which 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 Jones, Lewis and Stephen Hendel. Fela! earned Tony nominations for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical (Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones), Best Actor (Ngaujah), Best Featured Actress (Lillias White), Best Choreography (Jones), Best Direction (Jones), Best Orchestrations (Aaron Johnson), Best Scenic Design (Marina Draghici), Best Costume Design (Marina Draghici), Best Lighting Design (Robert Wierzel) and Best Sound Design (Robert Kaplowitz). It took home the honors for Best Choreography, Best Costume Design and Best Sound Design.
The musical ran on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Nov. 23, 2009-Jan. 2, 2011.
In Fela!, according to producers, "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.