Off Broadway musical heading to Eugene O'Neill
The much-discussed Broadway transfer of Off Broadway buzz magnet “Fela!” is now official: Producers have confirmed a fall opening for the musical at the Eugene O’Neill Theater.The bio-tuner about Afrobeat musician and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti won strong reviews when it played 37 Arts in an extended run last summer, and this spring went on to pick up legit kudos including a Lucille Lortel for musical and an Obie for thesp Sahr Ngaujah, who originated the role of Kuti and returns to play the part on the Main Stem. Plot follows not only Fela’s musical career — in which he combined jazz, funk and African traditions to become a pioneer in world music — but also his personal life and work as an activist opposing the corrupt military government of post-colonial Nigeria. Conceived by Bill T. Jones, Jim Lewis and Steve Hendel, show has a book by Lewis and Jones and is choreographed and helmed by Jones, who picked up a 2007 Tony as choreographer of “Spring Awakening.” Tuner’s score, comprising Kuti tunes, is performed by Brooklyn band Antibalas, led by Aaron Johnson. Hendel produces with Ruth Hendel (“Mary Stuart,” “33 Variations”) and Roy Gabay (“The Little Dog Laughed”). The pool of investors is reportedly likely to include big-name contempo musicians such as Alicia Keys, Beyonce and Jay Z. “Fela!” begins previews Oct. 19 ahead of a Nov. 23 opening.
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