FELA! to Return to Broadway for 4 Week Run at Al Hirschfeld Theatre This July!
Producers Shawn 'JAY Z' Carter, Will & Jada Pinkett Smith, Ruth & Stephen Hendel, Ahmir 'Questlove' Thompson and The National Theatre of Great Britain today announced the return of the critically acclaimed, award-winning production of Fela!, currently on a multi-city world tour, for a limited run of 32 performances ONLY at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre (302 West 45th Street) from July 9 – August 4. 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 Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones. The world renowned Antibalas and other members of the NYC Afrobeat community, under the direction of AaRon Johnson, again perform Kuti's rousing music live onstage. Recipient of three 2010 Tony Awards (Best Choreography, Best Costumes, Best Sound Design), Fela!, featuring the music and lyrics by Fela Kuti, was conceived by Bill T. Jones, Jim Lewis and Stephen Hendel, features additional lyrics by Jim Lewis, and additional music by AaRon Johnson and Jordan McLean. The musical is inspired by the authorized biography Fela: This Bitch of a Life by Carlos Moore. The press opening for this engagement is scheduled for Thursday, July 12 at 7 PM.
A spectacularly inspiring and triumphant tale of courage, passion and love, Fela! is based on the life of Fela Kuti, who created Afrobeat – a blend of jazz, funk and African rhythm and harmonies – and mixed these sensual eclectic rhythms with simple but powerful lyrics that openly assailed Nigeria's corrupt and oppressive dictatorships. Featuring many of Fela Kuti's most captivating songs performed by a combined cast of the original Broadway production and the Royal National Theatre production all under Bill T. Jones's visionary staging, Fela! reveals Kuti's life as an artist and human rights activist and celebrates his pioneering music in what has been hailed as one of the most exciting, exhilarating and vital stage experiences in recent memory.
Olivier and Tony Award-nominated actor Sahr Ngaujah* leads the cast of Fela! He is joined by Melanie Marshall and Paulette Ivory, the two stellar female stars ofthe Olivier-nominated National Theatre of Great Britain production. This touring production is a once in a lifetime experience, a glorious amalgam of the original casts of both Broadway and London's Royal National Theatre. (*At certain performances, the title role will be played by Adesola Osakalumi and Duain Martyn.)
Just before completing its 14-month, award-winning run on Broadway, Fela! simultaneously played a sold-out 9-week engagement at The National Theatre of Great Britain, becoming the first broadway show ever to both perform on the National's prestigious Olivier stage and to be featured on NTLive, where a National Theatre performance was screened in over 400 cinemas in 20 countries. Following that success, the production traveled to Lagos, Nigeria where it became the first Broadway show in history to play in Africa with its original cast. An acclaimed run during the 2011 Holland Festival followed, winning praise from Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, then Fela! returned to London for a summer run at Saddler's Wells. While back in London, members of the company performed for Prince Charles at a reception at St James's Palace. In September 2011, Fela! returned to the United States, opening in Washington, DC and went on to play hit runs in several cities including San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta and a six-week sold-out engagement at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. After this summer's return to Broadway, Fela! will continue its world tour with stops in Australia, Japan, a return to Africa, a reprise engagement at the Ahmanson in May 2013 followed by the Chekov Festival (Moscow, Russia) in June 2013 and numerous other cities around the world still to be announced.
Critics around the world have been effusive in their praise. Upon the show's original opening on Broadway in 2009, the kinetic energy pulsing from the music and dancing of Fela! prompted Ben Brantley of The New York Times to say "There should be dancing in the streets." The London critics were no less enthusiastic, with the Evening Standard honoring the production with four stars and proclaiming it "a bold new direction for musical theater!" Back in the U.S., Peter Marks of The Washington Post described it as "electroshock therapy for the soul," and Charles McNulty added in The Los Angeles Times that Fela! was "the most exuberant musical I've seen. The fusion of Fela's sound is rapturously celebrated with a pinwheel parade of pelvises." Boston's influential entertainment reporter, Joyce Kulhawik, demanded that her readers see the show calling it "one of the most exhilarating and enlightening evenings I've ever spent in a theater!" And, as the Don Aucoin wrote in the Boston Globe, "Directed and dazzlingly choreographed by Bill T. Jones and propelled by Kuti's own Afrobeat songs, 'Fela!' is a testament not just to the charisma of one remarkable, if flawed, man, but to the power of music to capture, channel, and communicate the spirit of rebellion." Don't miss the show, making its triumphant return to Broadway for a limited 32-performances, as part of its current world tour, from July 9 – August 4.
Fela! is directed and choreographed by Bill T. Jones, with a book by Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones, and music and lyrics by Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Conceived by Bill T. Jones, Jim Lewis and Stephen Hendel, the design and Tony Award winning costumes are by Marina Draghici, lighting design by Robert Wierzel and the Tony Award winning sound design by Robert Kaplowitz.
Fela! is produced by Shawn 'JAY Z' Carter, Will & Jada Pinkett Smith, Ruth & Stephen Hendel, The National Theatre of Great Britain, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Roy Gabay, Edward Tyler Nahem, Ahmir 'Questlove' Thompson, SlavaSmolokowski, Chip Meyrelles/Ken Greiner, Douglas G. Smith, Steve Semlitz/Cathy Glazer, Daryl Roth/True Love Productions, Susan Dietz/Mort Swinsky and Knitting Factory Entertainment.
Fela! returns to Broadway for 32 performances ONLY beginning Monday, July 9 at 7pm and playing through August 4 at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, 302 West 45h Street at 8th Avenue. The performance schedule is as follows: Monday, Tuesday at 7pm; Wednesday at 2pm and 7:30pm; Thursday at 7pm; Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 2pm & 8pm. DARK SUNDAY. Tickets for performances July 9 – July 12 are $47 - $92. For performances July 13 – August 4, tickets are $47 - $132. All prices include a $2 Jujamcyn Theatre facility fee. Tickets can be purchased online at www.Telecharge.com, by phone (212) 239-6200 or in-person at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, 302 West 45th Street at 8th Avenue (beginning June 18).