The author of a biography of Afrobeat musical pioneer Fela Anikulapo-Kuti has filed suit against the Broadway musical Fela!, claiming the show used portions of his book in the play's script in violation of his copyright, according to The New York Times.
Carlos Moore is the author of the 1982 book, Fela: This Bitch of a Life. According to his lawsuit, “Entire portions were simply copied from Moore’s book and inserted into the script of the musical.” The suit seeks damages and an injunction against the show itself.
Along with the production companies involved with Fela!, the complaint names director, choreographer and co-author Bill T. Jones, co-author Jim Lewis and producer Stephen Hendel as defendants.
In an interview with the Times, Hendel said, "Carlos has been incredibly supportive of the show. Several years ago, he saw the off-Broadway show. He was willing to sit and be interviewed by our people, to talk about Fela and Fela’s legacy, and that interview has been on YouTube for a long time, and at his request we have been selling his book in the theater since we opened and at our Web site. We’re disappointed and somewhat perplexed, and hope at some point we can get this resolved.”
In Fela!, audiences are welcomed into the extravagant, decadent and rebellious world of real-life revolutionary Anikulapo-Kuti. In a hybrid of concert, dance and musical theater, the show explores Kuti's controversial life as artist, political activist and revolutionary musician. Fela!, which currently stars Kevin Mambo and Patti LaBelle, is scheduled to close on January 2, 2011, at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre.