R&B superstar Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child fame has joined the cast of “Fela!” The musical, produced by Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, and Stephen and Ruth Hendel, is filled with the exuberant music of Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, and will be presented from April 25 through May 5, 2013. Tickets are now on sale for this limited engagement.
“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.
Michelle Williams is an accomplished singer, songwriter, record producer and actress. However, she is best known as a member of Destiny’s Child, the R&B pop group that also launched Beyoncé Knowles into stardom. In addition to her career with Destiny’s Child, Michelle also released three solo albums between 2002 and 2008. Williams has held leading roles in “Aida,” “The Color Purple” (also at the Ahmanson) and has starred as the first African American Roxie Hart in the West End’s production of “Chicago.”
“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.