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Photographer Sues FELA! For Unauthorized Photograph Use



Photographer Marilyn Nance is suing the musical FELA! for unauthorized use of one of her photographs, the New York Post reports. 

Nance claims that her photograph, which is of Fela Kuti's nightclub, is projected onstage for forty percent of the show and that it"effectively serves as the backdrop for the FELA! set."  In addition, Nance's suit alleges, the photograph appears in the booklet that accompanies the original cast recording, in a promotional video, and in FELA!'s souvenir program, where it is credited to Monique Carboni, the Post reports.

Nance, who states that she took the photo, which has been previously exhibited, in 1977, is suing the FELA! team for $150,000 or more, the Post reports.

Richard Kornberg, a publicist for FELA!, states that Nance's claim is "without merit" but adds, "We tried to resolve the claim, but could not, and are now in the process of replacing the image... Unfortunately this photographer waited two years to voice an objection to our use of this image. Had she notified us earlier, we would've replaced it then."

FELA!, presented by Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter and Will & Jada Pinkett Smith, is currently playing at Broadway's Eugene O'Neill Theatre (230 West 49th Street). The production received three 2010 Tony Awards, including Best Choreography, Best Costume Design and Best Sound Design. Fela! opened to rave reviews on November 23.

This new musical 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. 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, 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.

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 an international cast led by Tony-nominee Sahr Ngaujah and Kevin Mambo (MTC's Ruined), alternating in the role of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Tony Award-winner Lillias White (2010 Tony-nominee for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical) 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, Justin Prescott, Ryan H. Rankine, Daniel Soto, Jill M. Vallery, J.L. Williams, Iris Wilson, Aimee Graham Wodobode. Scenic and costume design is by 2010 Tony Award-winner Marina Draghici, lighting design is by Rob Wierzel (2010 Tony-nominee for Best Lighting Design of a Musical), sound design is by 2010 Tony Award-winner 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.

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 "Questlove" Thompson 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).For more information about FELA! please visit

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