The Broadway return, which is part of the production's current world tour, began previews July 9 and officially opened July 12. 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.
Sahr Ngaujah, who earned a Tony Award nomination for creating the titular role on Broadway, played most performances for the run. He was 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 was 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.
|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.