Will Fela! Play Broadway's Eugene O'Neill Theatre?

News   Will Fela! Play Broadway's Eugene O'Neill Theatre?
Fela! — the acclaimed new musical based on the life of groundbreaking African composer and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti that played a limited engagement in fall 2008 at Off-Broadway's 37 Arts — will begin previews at Broadway's Eugene O'Neill Theatre in September, according to the New York Post.
Fela! star Sahr Ngaujah.
Fela! star Sahr Ngaujah. Photo by Monique Carboni

Sahr Ngaujah, who starred in the title role Off-Broadway, will repeat his work for Broadway audiences. An October opening is expected at the O'Neill — the recent home of 33 Variations — according to the New York daily.

No official announcement about a Broadway production has been made, although Playbill.com previously reported that the creators of Fela! would reconvene this summer for a late June/early July workshop of the musical.

Bill T. Jones, who won a 2007 Tony Award for his Spring Awakening choreography, directed and choreographed Fela, which played its final performance at 37 Arts Oct. 5, 2008.

Fela! features a book by Jones and Jim Lewis and utilizes Kuti's own music. Lewis, a Tony nominee for Chronicle of a Death Foretold, also penned additional lyrics.

The Off-Broadway cast — many of which are expected to return for the summer workshop — included 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 Off-Broadway design team comprised scenic and costume designer Marina Draghici, lighting designer Rob Wierzel, sound designer Rob Kaplowitz and projection designer Peter Nigrini. Musical director was Aaron Johnson.

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