“Fela!,” the 2010 Tony Award® nominee for Best Musical which celebrated a successful run at the Ahmanson in 2011, returns to the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre, opening Friday, April 26 at 8 p.m. at the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre. Produced by Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, and Stephen and Ruth Hendel, “Fela!” is filled with the exuberant music of Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, and will be presented for 13 performances only through May 5, 2013.
The cast, which includes Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child playing the role of Sandra, also features Adesola Osakalumi and Duain Richmond alternating in the title role of Fela, Melanie Marshall as Funmilayo, Rasaan-Elijah “Talu” Green as Djembe-“Mustafa,” Ismael Kouyaté as Ismael and Gelan Lambert as J.K. Braimah (Tap Dancer) and Egungun.
The ensemble includes Lauren De Veaux, Shawn Alynda Fisher, Jason Herbert, Shakira Marshall, India McGee, Oneika Phillips, Kafi Pierre, Malaiyka Reid, Daniel Soto, Tricia M. Taitt, Adé Chiké Torbert, Uyoata Udi and Jill Marie Vallery.
“Fela!,” which is based on the life of the charismatic Kuti and is highlighted by many of Kuti’s most captivating songs, has a book by Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones, music and lyrics by Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, additional lyrics by Jim Lewis, additional music by Aaron Johnson and Jordan McLean, and was conceived by Bill T. Jones, Jim Lewis and Stephen Hendel. “Fela!” features the visionary direction and choreography of two-time Tony Award-winner Bill T. Jones (“Fela!” and “Spring Awakening”), who was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in December 2010.
A triumphant tale of courage, passion and love, “Fela!” is the true story of Kuti, who created a new type of music, Afrobeat, 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. His songs of rebellion were an inspiration to millions.
“Fela!” received a total of 11 Tony Award nominations in 2010.
The music and dancing of “Fela!” prompted Ben Brantley of The New York Times to say, “There should be dancing in the streets” when it opened on Broadway in 2009, and Peter Marks of The Washington Post said it is an “. . . electroshock for the soul.” Charles McNulty of the Los Angeles Times said last December of the Ahmanson presentation, “. . .be prepared to get out of your seat and shake your derriere.”
Tickets for “Fela!” are available by calling (213) 972-4400, online at www.CenterTheatreGroup.org or in person at the CTG box office located at the Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center.
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