Following its 2009 Broadway premiere, Fela! played a return engagement, opening at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre July 12, 2012. The production played 4 previews and 28 performances before ending its limited run August 4.
Inspired by Fela: This Bitch of a Life and conceived by Bill T. Jones, Jim Lewis, and Stephen Hendel, Fela! explores the life of Fela Anikulapo Kuti, a Nigerian artist, activist, composer and performer. The production uses Kuti’s music with additional musical by Aaron Johnson and Jordan McLean.
The return engagement starred Sahr Ngaujah (Moulin Rouge!) as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Melanie Marshall as Funmilayo, Paulette Ivory as Sandra, Rasaan-Elijah “Talu” Green as Djembe-“Mustafa,” and Gelan Lambert as J.K. Braimah/Tap Dancer/Egungun, with Aesola Osakalumi and Duain Richmond as the Fela Anikulapo-Kuti alternates. Rounding out the cast were Sherinne Kayra Anderson, Jonathan Andre, Cindy Belliot, Nandi Bhebhe, Catia Mota Da Cruz, Nicole Chantal de Weever, Jacqui DuBois, Poundo “Sweet” Gomis, Shakira Marshall, Jeffrey Page, Oneika Phillips, Thierry Picaut, Jermaine Rowe, Daniel Soto, Jill Marie Vallery, Iris Wilson, and Aimee Graham Wodobode.
Directed and choreographed by Jones, Fela! featured scenic and costume design by Marina Draghici, lighting design by Robert Wierzel, Robert Kaplowitz, and projection design by Peter Nigrini with stage management by John M. Atherlay, William Gilinsky, and Hannah Dorfman. The musical was produced by Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, and more.
Flip through photos of the original Broadway production, which earned Tonys for Jones (for his choreography) and designers Draghici and Kaplowitz, below.