‘Fela!’ crosses the Pond

Broadway tuner to play London's National

Broadway tuner “Fela!” will play London’s National Theater in a run that begins in November and will star Sahr Ngaujah and Kevin Mambo, the thesps who alternate in the title role on the Main Stem.

Bill T. Jones, the helmer-choreographer of the New York incarnation, will stage the show at the National with a cast made up of Brit performers, aside from Ngaujah and Mambo.

Musical will play in rep with an upcoming production of “Hamlet,” toplined by Rory Kinnear and helmed by National a.d. Nicholas Hytner.

“Fela!,” which retells the life story of Nigerian musician and activist Fela Kuti, also is under consideration for the National’s NT Live series of cinema broadcasts. But that arrangement has not been finalized.

It’s rare for a Broadway show to be imported to the National with original cast members along for the ride. A couple of seasons back, the theater presented Pulitzer and Tony winner “August: Osage County” in a production starring the actors who first appeared in the show on the Rialto.

Exact length of the London run of “Fela!” remains to be confirmed. It’s also understood that Ngaujah will depart the Gotham production to play the London incarnation for a set number of weeks, and then will switch places with Mambo, who will head to London while Ngaujah returns to New York. (In Blighty actors won’t need to share the demanding lead role, since the show’s rep sked means it will play fewer performances per week than on Broadway.)

“Fela!” earned glowing notices from New York critics. Sales have been generally stable, if not boffo.

At the National, “Fela!” begins previews Nov. 6 ahead of a Nov. 16 opening.

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