Most Happy Fela!: New Musical Extends Off-Broadway Run

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12 Sep 2008

<I>Fela!</I> star Sahr Ngaujah
Fela! star Sahr Ngaujah
Photo by Monique Carboni
Fela!, the new musical based on the life of groundbreaking African composer and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti, has extended its limited engagement at Off-Broadway's 37 Arts.

Producers Ruth and Stephen Hendel and Roy Gabay announced Sept. 12 that the production, which was originally scheduled to run through Sept. 21, will now play an extra two weeks due to popular demand. Closing date is now Oct. 4.

Bill T. Jones, who won a 2007 Tony Award for his Spring Awakening choreography, directs and choreographs the production, which began previews July 29 and officially opened Sept. 4.

Tickets for the extension period, Sept. 24-Oct. 4, will go on sale Sept. 15 at 12 noon by calling (212) 560-8912 or by visiting www.ticketmaster.com.

Fela! features a book by Jones and Jim Lewis and utilizes Kuti's own music performed live by Antibalas and other members of the New York Afrobeat community. Lewis, a Tony nominee for Chronicle of a Death Foretold, has also penned additional lyrics.



The cast includes Sahr Ngaujah as Fela and Abena Koomson as Fela's mother with Anne Andre, Corey Baker, Calvin C. Booker, Lauren Deveaux, Nicole Chantal DeWeever, Rujeko Dumbutshena, Aimee Graham, Talu Green, Karma Mayet Johnson, Ismael Kouyate, Maia McKinney, Marcus Phillips, Daniel Soto, Sparlha Swa, Jill M. Vallery and Iris Wilson.

In Fela!, press notes state, "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 comprises scenic and costume designer Marina Draghici, lighting designer Rob Wierzel, sound designer Rob Kaplowitz and projection designer Peter Negrini. Musical director is Aaron Johnson.

Show times are Tuesday at 7 PM, Wednesday-Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 2 and 8 PM and Sunday at 2 and 7 PM. Beginning Sept. 16, show times will be Tuesday at 7 PM, Wednesday-Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 2 and 8 PM and Sunday at 3 PM.

37 Arts is located in Manhattan at 450 West 37th Street at Tenth Avenue. For more information go to www.FelaOffBroadway.com.