*Two years ago, there was a big robbery on Broadway that was the best kept secret around town. That is ‘til now! Back in 2010, the innovative play, Fela!, based on the life of Nigerian musician, composer and political activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti topped the 2010 Tony Awards nominations receiving 11 award nominations including Best Musical. Fela! won three 2010 Tony Awards for Best Choreography, Best Costume Design and Best Sound Design; but lost the crown jewel, Best Musical, to Memphis.
After seeing the play during its second reincarnation, I must unequivocally admit, Fela! was robbed. You don’t have to take my word for it. Let your feet lead you to the pulsating Afrobeat music to The Al Hirschfeld Theatre, 302 West 45th Street, NYC where you will be thoroughly entertained.
Once again Shawn ‘JAY Z’ Carter, Will & Jada Pinkett Smith, Ruth & Stephen Hendel, Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson and The National Theatre of Great Britain are on board for the return of the critically acclaimed, award-winning Broadway and National Theatre of Great Britain production of Fela!
The newest version opened on Thursday, July 12, 2012 for a limited run of 32 performances to August 4, 2012 to a star-studded Opening Night audience and received a thunderous standing ovation in which the play’s director and choreographer Bill T. Jones joined Sahr Ngaujah on stage for a stunning curtain call and broke out in dance to the delight of the crowd.
Exploring the extravagant world of Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti, this “provocative hybrid of dance, theatre, music, biography and a party like no-other” is directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Bill T. Jones, with a book by Jones, Jim Lewis and Stephen Hendel, featuring lyrics by Fela Anikulapo-Kunti, with additional lyrics by Lewis and additional music by AaRon Johnson and Jordan McLean.
The world renowned Antibalas and other members of the NYC Afrobeat community are directed by AaRon Johnson and Jordan McLean. The musical is inspired by the authorized biography Fela: This Bitch of a Life by Carlos Moore.
Olivier and Tony Award-nominated actor Sahr Ngaujah leads the cast of Fela! He is joined by Melanie Marshall and Paulette Ivory, the two female stars of the Olivier-nominated National Theatre of Great Britain production. At certain performances, the title role will be played by Adesola Osakalumi and Duain Martyn.
The design team behind Fela! include design and Tony Award-winning costumes by Marina Draghici, the Tony Award-winning sound design by Robert Kaplowitz., lighting design by Robert Wierzel and make-up & hair design by Cookie Jordan. Following the performance, guests beat it over to B. Smith’s for a fabulous celebration. Like love, most guests loved this production even more – the second time around! (Photos by Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.)