STAGE TUBE: FELA! Releases New TV Commercial
Fela!, the critically acclaimed new musical based on the life and music of groundbreaking African composer, performer and activist Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, is directed and choreographed by Tony® Award-winner Bill T. Jones (Spring Awakening), with a book by Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones. Sahr Ngaujah 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. Winner of this year's Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical, Fela! was conceived by Bill T. Jones, Jim Lewis and Stephen Hendel. Fela! had its world premiere at Off-Broadway's 37 Arts in September 2008, where it enjoyed a sold-out limited run. 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.
Directed and choreographed by Tony® Award-winner Bill T. Jones with a book by Jim Lewis, Fela! welcomes its audience 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), Fela! explores Kuti's controversial life as artist, political activist and revolutionary musician. Featuring many of Fela Kuti's most captivating songs and Bill T. Jones's imaginative staging, Fela! is a provocative hybrid of concert, dance and musical theater.
Upon its November 23 opening, Ben Brantley of The New York Times wrote, "The hot (and seriously cool) energy that comes from the musical gospel preached by the title character of Fela! feels as if it could stretch easily to the borders of Manhattan and then across a river or two. There has never been anything on Broadway like this production." The New York Post's Elisabeth Vincentelli cheered, "There's enough energy to short circuit Con Ed." David Cote of Time Out New York, in giving it 5 stars (out of 5) raved, "Fela! is more than a musical; it's an ecstatic phenomenon." And Jennifer Farrar from the AP exclaimed, "An exuberant celebration!"
Fela! features a multi-cultural cast led by Sahr Ngaujah (recipient of an Obie Award for his performance in the title role Off-Broadway) and Kevin Mambo (MTC's Ruined), alternating in the role of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Tony Award-winner Lillias White plays Funmilayo Anikulapo-Kuti (Fela's mother) and Saycon Sengbloh (Hair) plays Sandra, Kuti's love interest. The company also includes Corey Baker, Hettie Vyrine Barnhill, Lauren Deveaux, Nicole Chantal DeWeever, Elasea Douglas, Rujeko Dumbutshena, Catherine Foster, Rasaan-Elijah "Talu" Green, Shaneeka Harrell, Chanon Judson, Abena Koomson, Ismael Kouyate, Gelan Lambert, Farai Malianga, Shakira Marshall, Afi McClendon, Adesola Osakalumi, Jeffrey Page, Ryan H. Rankine, Daniel Soto, Jill M. Vallery, J.L. Williams, Iris Wilson, Aimee Graham Wodobode. Scenic and costume design is by Marina Draghici, lighting design is by Rob Wierzel, sound design is by Rob Kaplowitz and projection design is by Peter Nigrini. Musical arrangements and additional music by AaRon Johnson and Jordan McLean, and Jim Lewis provided additional lyrics.
Fela! is produced by Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, Will & Jada Pinkett Smith, Ruth & Stephen Hendel, Roy Gabay, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Edward Tyler Nahem, Slava Smolokowski, Chip Meyrelles/Ken Greiner, Douglas G. Smith, Steve Semlitz/Cathy Glazer, Daryl Roth/True Love Productions, Susan Dietz/Mort Swinsky and Knitting Factory Entertainment. In association with Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson.
THE CREATIVE TEAM
Bill T. Jones (Conceiver / Director / Choreographer / Book Writer) is a 2007 Tony® Award winner and the recipient of the 2007 Obie Award and 2006 Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation CALLAWAY Award for his choreography for Spring Awakening, the recipient of the 2007 USA Eileen Harris Norton Fellowship, the 2006 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Choreography for The Seven, the 2005 Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement, the prestigious 2005 Wexner Prize, and the Aaron Davis Hall Harlem Renaissance Award. He is also a MacArthur "Genius" Award recipient in 1994, named one of America's Irreplaceable Dance Treasures by the Dance Heritage Coalition in 2000, and was awarded The 2003 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for which recipients are considered trailblazers who have redefined their art and reshaped the cultural landscape. He began his dance training at the State University of New York at Binghamton (SUNY), where he studied classical ballet and modern dance. After living in Amsterdam, Mr. Jones returned to SUNY, where he became co-founder of the American Dance Asylum in 1973. Before forming Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in 1982, Mr. Jones choreographed and performed nationally and internationally as a soloist and duet company with his late partner, Arnie Zane.
Jim Lewis (Conceiver / Book Writer / Additional Lyrics) Broadway credits include Chronicle of a Death Foretold (Tony®, Drama Desk Nominations), Dangerous Games (with Graciela Daniele), Tango Apaisionado. Dance/Opera: Paul Dresher's The Tyrant; Ballet Hispanico's Nightclub; Philip Glass' Les Enfants Terribles (BAM); PastFORWARD (Mikhail Baryshnikov, BAM). Translations: Ionesco's The Chairs; Ibsen's Lady From The Sea. Dramaturge: House Arrest (Anna Deavere Smith); Dream On Monkey Mountain (Bill T. Jones); Art Spiegelman's Drawn To Death; Dido And Aeneas (Spoleto); Bill T. Jones 20th Anniversary Still/Here (BAM), This Beautiful City with The Civilians (Vineyard Theatre).
ANTIBALAS (Arrangements / Musicians) Credited with introducing Afrobeat to a new generation, this Brooklyn-based collective has released four critically-acclaimed albums since forming in 1998, and can been heard on numerous Afrobeat compilations. Antibalas has performed more than 700 concerts around the world including appearances at the Coachella, Newport and the Montreux Festivals.
SHAWN "JAY-Z" CARTER (Producer) Since 1995, multiple Grammy award winner, Shawn "JAY-Z" Carter has dominated the rap industry and set trends for a generation. Now in 2010, he personifies the "American Dream." Founder and chairman of Rocawear, he is also co-owner of the NJ Nets, 40/40 sports clubs, Translation Advertising and Carol's Daughter skin line, as well as a partnership with Iconix Brand Group. After three successful years as President and CEO of Def Jam Recordings, where he fostered the careers of international stars Rihanna, Ne-Yo and Kanye West, JAY-Z entered into a partnership with Live Nation to form Roc Nation. Through Roc Nation, JAY-Z released the Blueprint 3, his 11th #1 album, putting him ahead of Elvis for most #1 albums by a solo artist. He continues his philanthropic work through his Water For Life initiative and the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation.
Will Smith (Producer) Two-time Academy Award nominee Will Smith has enjoyed unprecedented success in a career encompassing films, television, and multi-platinum records. For his memorable portrayal of Muhammad Ali in Michael Mann's Ali, he received his first Academy Award nomination and that was followed by his second nomination for the true-life drama, The Pursuit of Happyness. Films in which Smith has acted include I Am Legend, Hancock, I, Robot, Independence Day, Men in Black and Men in Black II. Films in which Smith acted and also produced along with partner James Lassiter at Overbrook Entertainment include Hitch, ATL, The Pursuit of Happyness, Seven Pounds and The Human Contract.
Jada Pinkett Smith (Producer) Currently stars as Christina Hawthorne in TNT's newest medical drama "HawthoRNe." The show, which Jada executive produces through her Production Company 100% Womon, garnered critical acclaim for its first season. The second season will air in the summer of 2010. Recent films in which Jada has acted include Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (as the voice of Gloria), The Women, Reign Over Me, Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions. Jada wrote and directed The Human Contract and served as executive producer of The Secret Life of Bees. Additionally, Jada's 2005 children's book "Girls Hold Up This World" was a New York Times bestseller.
Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter and Will & Jada Pinkett Smith present Fela!, a new musical, based on the life of groundbreaking African composer, performer and activist Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre (230 West 49th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue).
FELA! Performance Schedule
March 16 - April 25: Tuesday at 7pm, Wednesday - Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm & 8pm and Sunday at 3pm & 8pm.
April 27 - June 6: Tuesday at 7pm, Wednesday - Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm & 8pm and Sunday at 2pm & 7:30pm.
Tickets range from $27 - $122 (prices include a $2 Jujamcyn Theatre facility fee) and can be purchased online at www.Telecharge.com, by phone (212) 239-6200 or in-person at The Eugene O'Neill Box Office, located at 230 West 49th Street. For more information about Fela! please visit www.FelaOnBroadway.com.
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