Tony-Winning Musical Fela! Bows in Lagos, Nigeria April 20

News   Tony-Winning Musical Fela! Bows in Lagos, Nigeria April 20
The Broadway musical Fela! comes full circle April 20 when the story of the Nigerian musician and political figure Fela Anikulapo-Kuti begins performances in Lagos.

Members of the original Broadway cast, including Tony Award nominee Sahr Ngaujah and Tony Award winner Lillias White, repeat their performances for the limited run through April 25 at the the Eko Hotel's New Expo Centre. Broken Shackles is producing the engagement.

The cast also includes leading Fela alternate Kevin Mambo, as well as Saycon Sengbloh, Corey Baker, Hettie Barnhill, Nicole Chantal DeWeever, Lauren Deveaux, Elasea Douglas, Rujeko Dumbutshena, Catherine Foster, Talu Green, Shaneeka Harrell, Abena Koomson, Ismael Kouyate, Gelan Lambert, Farai M. Malianga, Shakira Marshall, Afi McClendon, Adesola Osakalumi, Jeffrey Page, Daniel Soto, Jill M. Vallery, J.L. Williams, Iris Wilson, Aimee Graham Wodobode, Chanon Judson, Ryan Rankine, Justin Prescott and Oneika Phillips.

As on Broadway and in London, the Lagos engagement features the Afrobeat orchestra Antibalas and other members of the NYC Afrobeat community. first reported talk of a Lagos bow for Fela! in May 2010. The musical's Tony Award-winning creator Bill T. Jones spoke of a plans for a Nigerian production to mark the 50th anniversary of the country's independence.

Producers are also aiming for an international tour of Fela!, though dates beyond the Lagos run have not been announced. Jones 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! earned Tony nominations for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical (Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones), Best Actor (Sahr Nguajah), 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.

The musical ran on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Nov. 23, 2009-Jan. 2, 2011. Fela! later arrived at London's National Theatre Nov. 6, 2010.

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."

Fela! was produced on Broadway by Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, Will & Jada Pinkett Smith, Ruth & Stephen Hendel, Roy Gabay, Edward Tyler Nahem, Slava Smolokowski, Chip Meyrelles/Ken Greiner, Steve Semlitz/Cathy Glazer, Daryl Roth/True Love Productions, Knitting Factory Entertainment and Susan Dietz. In association with Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson.

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 will provide musical arrangements.


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