ABOVE PHOTO: Former Destiny’s Child member Michelle Williams stars as “Sandra Isadore.”
Following overwhelming success and critical acclaim from coast to coast, the smash Broadway hit and 3-Time Tony Award-Winning musical, Fela! returns to Philly. The recent engagement in Philadelphia played to capacity crowds and was celebrated by critics. Toby Zinman of the Philadelphia Inquirer proclaimed Fela! as “loud and colorful and wildly energetic…,” while Sharon Gellar of Examiner.com said Fela! “brings down the house.” So, due to intense popular demand, producers Jay-Z, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Stephen & Ruth Hendel have producers of Fela! have announced the musical’s return to Philly on March 12-17, 2013 for an Exclusive Engagement at The Merriam Theatre, 250 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102.
The national touring production of the hit Award winning Broadway musical will star Adesola Osakalumi in the starring role of “Fela Kuti” and International R&B superstar Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child fame will star in the role of “Sandra Isadore,” activist and love interest of Fela Kuti when it returns to Philly.
Other principals featured are Duain Richmond, who also stars as “Fela Kuti” in select performances, Melanie Marshall as “Funmilayo,” Fela Kuti’s mother, Ismael Kouyate as “Ismael” and Gelan Lambert as “J.K. Braimah/Tap Dancer/Egungun”. Also included in the cast are Oneika Phillips, Shakira Marshall, Jill Vallery, Daniel Soto, Kafi Pierre, Justin Prescott, Jason Herbert and Uti Uyoata.
A multi-award winning international singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress, Michelle Williams is best known as a member of the record-breaking R&B and Pop sensation, Destiny’s Child, one of the world’s best-selling female groups of all time. Born and raised in the small Chicago suburb of Rockford, Illinois, Michelle always dreamed of a life on stage.
In between recordings and concert tours, Michelle conquered yet another challenging mountain as an actress. First, she took the reins of Broadway’s Aida in 2003 to critical acclaim and audience raves. Then, in 2006, she took to the television screen for a hotly touted, ground-breaking multi-episode run in the popular UPN sitcom “Half & Half,” where she played the role of Naomi, a record company executive that was HIV-positive. In 2007, Michelle took on her greatest acting challenge when she joined the cast of the Broadway smash, The Color Purple for its national tour. She dazzled in the role of Shug Avery. In 2009, Michelle joined the London West End production of Chicago where she made history as being the first African American woman to play the lead role of Roxie Hart. She reprised her role in February 2010 on Broadway for a limited engagement. In 2011, Michelle starred in the acclaimed touring stage play What My Husband Doesn’t Know which is now showing on BET.
Michelle is currently in the recording studio working on new material for her pop inspirational album due in 2013. She is also spokesperson for TERI (Training Education & Research Institute) a non-profit dedicated to improving the quality of life for children and adults with developmental and learning disabilities and works with the American Heart Association as an ambassador for the American Stroke Association. Most recently she became a spokesperson for NVEEE (National Voices for Equality, Education and Enlightenment), an organization focused on preventing bullying, violence and suicide among young people.
A triumphant and inspirational 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 ruled Nigeria and much of Africa. Featuring many of Fela Kuti’s most captivating songs and Bill T. Jones’s visionary staging, the global phenomenon that is Fela! reveals Kuti’s controversial life as an artist and political activist, while at the same time celebrating his pioneering music and commitment to the cause of universal human dignity.
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.
Tickets range from $20.00 – $75.00, plus applicable taxes and fees. Tickets can be purchased online at kimmelcenter.org or ticketphiladelphia.org, by calling 215-893-1999 and at The Kimmel Center Box Office (Open daily from 10am – 6pm. The Call Center is open daily from 9am – 8pm.) TTY callers use 215-875-7633.