Brooklyn-Based Photographer Files Lawsuit Against Fela! Producers

News   Brooklyn-Based Photographer Files Lawsuit Against Fela! Producers
Brooklyn-based photographer Marilyn Nance has filed a lawsuit against the producers of the acclaimed musical Fela! for using one of her photographs in the musical without permission.

The New York Post says that Nance's photo, which was taken by the photographer while she was traveling in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1977, is projected onto the stage and "effectively serves as the backdrop for the Fela! set."

The photo of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti's Nigerian nightclub — which was published in the 2003 tome "Black President: The Art and Legacy of Fela Anikulapo Kuti" — is also featured in the musical's souvenir program as well as in the CD booklet and promotional music video.

Richard Kornberg, the publicist for the musical, told the Post, "We tried to resolve the claim, but could not, and are now in the process of replacing the image . . . Unfortunately this photographer waited two years to voice an objection to our use of this image. Had she notified us earlier, we would’ve replaced it then."

Fela!, the new musical based on the life and music of groundbreaking African composer, plays the Eugene O'Neill Theatre.

After an acclaimed run Off-Broadway in 2008, Fela! began previews on Broadway Oct. 19, 2009. Sahr Ngaujah, who headlined the Off-Broadway premiere, alternates in the role of the late African musical figure, with Kevin Mambo (Ruined). Tony-winning Spring Awakening choreographer Bill T. Jones directs and choreographs the production that 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 Bill T. Jones, Jim Lewis and Stephen Hendel.

Fela! won three 2010 Tony Awards: Best Costume Design, Best Sound Design and Best Choreography. Visit

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