Patti LaBelle Joins FELA! Sept. 14 for Limited Run; Show to Close January 2
As BroadwayWorld previously speculated, producers Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, Will & Jada Pinkett Smith, Ruth & Stephen Hendel and Roy Gabay will welcome Grammy Award-winning, multi-platinum recording artist Patti LaBelle to the cast of the hit Award-winning Broadway musical Fela! on Tuesday, September 14, when she takes over the role of Fela's mother (Funmilayo Anikulapo-Kuti) through Sunday, January 2, 2011, when the show will play its final scheduled performance. Tony Award-winner Lillias White (who received a 2010 Tony Nomination for her performance in this production) will play her final performance on September 12. Fela! received three 2010 Tony Awards, including Best Choreography, Best Costume Design and Best Sound Design. It is currently playing at Broadway's Eugene O'Neill Theatre (230 West 49th Street) where it opened to rave reviews on November 23.
"I am both thrilled and honored to be joining the cast of Fela! on Broadway. After seeing the show, I was struck by the choreography and work of Bill T. Jones, and the passion and joy that overflows from the stage. Fela's mother, Funmilayo, was a strong, truly inspiring woman and I am so privileged to be able to pay tribute to her on the Broadway stage." -Patti LaBelle
As previously announced, while the Broadway production of Fela! continues its history-making, groundbreaking run at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, The Royal National Theatre in London will simultaneously present a limited run of the show - in repertory with Hamlet - beginning November 6. This marks the first time ever that the National Theatre has produced a show that's simultaneously running on Broadway.
Fela! is directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Bill T. Jones, with a book by Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones. Sahr Ngaujah (2010 Tony Award-nominee for Best Actor in a Musical) and Kevin Mambo play the title character at alternate performances, while the world renowned Antibalas and other members of the NYC Afrobeat community, under the direction of AaRon Johnson, perform Kuti's rousing music live onstage. Fela! was conceived by Bill T. Jones, Jim Lewis and Stephen Hendel. Tickets for Fela! on Broadway are available through www.Telecharge.com, by calling (212) 239-6200 or in-person at The Eugene O'Neill Box Office, located at 230 West 49th Street.
Fela!, the true story of the legendary Nigerian musician Fela Kuti whose soulful Afrobeat rhythms ignited a generation, is a triumphant tale of courage, passion and love, featuring Kuti's captivating music and the visionary direction and choreography of Tony Award-winner Bill T. Jones. Inspired by his mother, a civil rights champion, Kuti defied a corrupt and oppressive military government and devoted his life and music to the struggle for freedom and human dignity.
Patti LaBelle (Funmilayo Anikulapo-Kuti). Beautiful, simply does not describe the incomparable force known to the world as Patti LaBelle. As time continues to evolve, the soulful songbird's name has become synonymous with grace, style, elegance and class. Belting out classic rhythm and blues renditions, pop standards and spiritual sonnets have created the unique platform of versatility that Ms. Patti is known and revered for. Last year, she reunited with Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx for the first time in 30 years for the critically acclaimed Labelle reunion album, Back to Now. It's a small wonder that Patti has time for anything else in between recording and touring, but she makes time and the world is oh so happy that she does!