By Adam Hetrick
13 Sep 2011
|Photo by Tristram Kenton|
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! ran on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Nov. 23, 2009-Jan. 2, 2011, and has been seen in London and Nigeria this past year. The tour will continue in Washington through Oct. 9 prior to stops in Atlanta, GA (Oct. 11-16 at the Civic Center); New Haven, CT (Oct. 20-23 at the Shubert Theatre); Toronto, ON (Oct. 25-Nov. 6 at the Canon 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).
Ngaujah, who earned a Tony Award nomination for creating the titular role on Broadway, repeats his work on the tour. He alternates with Adesola Osakalumi.
Ensemble members are Sherinne Kayra Anderson, Jonathan Andre, Cindy Belliot, Nandi Bhebhe, Catia Mota Da Cruz, Nicole Chantal De Weever, Jacqui Dubois, Poundo "Sweet" Gomis, Wanjiru Kamuyu, Thierry Picaut, Oneika Phillips, Jermaine Rowe, Daniel Soto, Adé Chiké Torbert, Jill Marie Vallery, Iris Wilson and Aimee Graham Wodobode.
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.
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 provide musical arrangements.