Fela! Brings Afrobeat Back to Broadway for Limited Run Beginning July 9

By Adam Hetrick
and Andrew Gans
09 Jul 2012

Sahr Ngaujah
Sahr Ngaujah
Photo by Tristram Kenton

Fela!, the Tony-winning Broadway musical about Nigerian musician and political figure Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, with its original Tony Award-nominated star Sahr Ngaujah, returns to Broadway July 9 for an encore engagement at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre.

The limited, 32-performance Broadway return plays through Aug. 4 as part of the production's current world tour. Fela! ran on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Nov. 23, 2009-Jan. 2, 2011, and has been seen in London and Nigeria, among other places.

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.

Ngaujah, who earned a Tony Award nomination for creating the titular role on Broadway, will play most performances for the run. He is joined by Melanie Marshall and Paulette Ivory, who appeared in the Olivier-nominated National Theatre of Great Britain production. (At certain performances, the title role will be played by Adesola Osakalumi or Duain Martyn.)



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.

Paulette Ivory and Sahr Ngaujah
photo by Tristram Kenton

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.

Fela! is produced by Shawn ‘JAY Z’ Carter, Will & Jada Pinkett Smith, Ruth & Stephen Hendel, the National Theatre of Great Britain, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Roy Gabay, Edward Tyler Nahem, Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson, SlavaSmolokowski, Chip Meyrelles/Ken Greiner, Douglas G. Smith, Steve Semlitz/Cathy Glazer, Daryl Roth/True Love Productions, Susan Dietz/Mort Swinsky and Knitting Factory Entertainment.

Tickets for performances July 9-12 are $47-$92. For performances July 13-Aug. 4, tickets are $47-$132. Tickets can be purchased online by visiting Telecharge.com, by phone (212) 239-6200 or in-person at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, 302 West 45th Street at 8th Avenue (beginning June 18).

Visit FelaBroadway.com/World-Tour.