ABOVE PHOTO: Sahr Ngaujah and Paulette Ivory in a scene from FELA!
(Photo: Tristram Kento Photo credit: Monique Carboni)
FELA!, the critically acclaimed musical and the recipient of three 2010 Tony Awards, will play the Academy of Music for a limited engagement March 20 – March 25 as part of the Broadway Season, presented by The Kimmel Center and The Shubert Organization. The press opening is Tues., March 20 at 7:30 pm.
Performances include: Tuesday – Thursday evenings at 7:30 pm; Friday & Saturday evenings at 8:00 pm; Sunday evening at 6:30 pm; and matinees Saturday at 2:00 pm and Sunday at 1:00 pm.
FELA!, directed by Bill T. Jones, is a provocative hybrid of dance, theatre and music exploring the extravagant world of Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti. The show has become an international sensation having been performed in three continents.
A triumphant tale of courage, passion and love, FELA! is the true story of Kuti, who created a type of music, Aftrobeat, and mixed these pounding eclectic rhythms (a blend of jazz, funk and African rhythm and harmonies) with incendiary 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, FELA! reveals Kuti’s controversial life as an artist and political activist and celebrates his pioneering music.
Olivier and Tony Award-nominated actor Sahr Ngaujah will lead the cast of FELA!. He is joined by Melanie Marshall and Paulette Ivory, who co-starred with Ngaujah in the Olivier-nominated Royal National Theatre production.
The production received its world premiere Off-Broadway in September 2008, and won the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical, before transferring to Broadway’s Eugene O’Neill Theatre in November 2009 where its accolades included three 2010 Tony Awards , for Best Choreography, Best Costume Design, Best Sound Design, and an Astaire Award for Bill T. Jones’ choreography.
Critics around the country were effusive in their praise. 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.