FELA! Returns to Chicago at Arie Crown Theater in February
FELA! has announced its return to Chicago for six performances only February 19 - 23, 2013 at the Arie Crown Theater (2301 South Lake Shore Drive).
A triumphant tale of courage, passion and love, FELA! is the true story of Kuti, who created a type of music, Afrobeat, and mixed these pounding eclectic rhythms (a blend of jazz, funk and African rhythm and harmonies) with rousing lyrics that openly attacked the corrupt and oppressive military dictatorships that rule Nigeria and much of Africa. Featuring many of Fela Kuti's most captivating songs and Bill T. Jones's visionary staging, this Tony Award-winning musical reveals Kuti's controversial life as an artist and political activist and celebrates his pioneering music.
FELA! had its world premiere Off-Broadway in the summer of 2008, and opened on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neil Theater to rapturous reviews a year later where it played 34 previews and 463 regular performances. Numerous celebrities and dignitaries caught the groundbreaking musical, including First Lady Michelle Obama, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Kanye West, Oprah Winfrey and Hugh Jackman, among others. Prior to its closing on Broadway, London's Royal National Theatre presented the production as part of its season in the fall of 2010, marking the first time ever that The National Theatre had presented a show that was simultaneously running on Broadway. There, too, the show received rave reviews and numerous awards and accolades. The show went on to tour internationally, selling out theaters in Nigeria, Amsterdam, a return stint in London then a successful tour across the United States, culminating in an acclaimed encore four-week engagement on Broadway during the summer of 2012.
Critics around the country were effusive in their praise. The Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times raved about FELA!
with Hedy Weiss exclaiming FELA! a "ground-breaking Broadway musical." 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." Peter Marks of The Washington Post described it as "electroshock for the soul" and Charles McNulty added in The Los Angeles Times that FELA! was "the most exuberant musical I've seen this season" and "the fusion of his (Fela's) sound is rapturously celebrated with a pinwheel parade of pelvises."
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 in association with Shawn 'Jay-Z' Carter, Will & Jada Pinkett Smith, Ruth & Stephen Hendel, Roy Gabay, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Edward Tyler Nahem, SlavaSmolokowski, Chip Meyrelles/Ken Greiner, Douglas G. Smith, Steve Semlitz/Cathy Glazer, Daryl Roth/True Love Productions, Susan Dietz/Mort Swinsky, Knitting Factory Entertainment and with Ahmir 'Questlove' Thompson.