November 23, 2009
Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the man who created the fusion of jazz, funk and African drumming known as Afrobeat, tells the extraordinary details of his life through song, dance and banter with the audience. Fela, his band and his tribe of wives also depict their politically oppressed Nigera, a country terrorized by its own government, and the crimes committed by their leaders against them.
The life of Kuti
Fresh off a Tony Award win for his Spring Awakening choreography, Bill T. Jones began collaborating with Afrobeat band Antibalas on a musical based on Kuti’s life. Fela! debuted off-Broadway at 37 Arts (the same theater where the Tony-winning musical In the Heights started) on September 4, 2008, where it ran for a month.
Book by Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones; music and lyrics by Fela Anikulapo Kuti
Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, Will & Jada Pinkett Smith, Ruth and Stephen Hendel, Roy Gabay, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Edward Tyler Nahem, Slava Smolokowski, Chip Meyrelles/Ken Grenier, Douglas G. Smith, Steve Semlitz/Cathy Glaser, Daryl Roth/True Love Productions, Susan Dietz/Morton Swinsky and Knitting Factory Entertainment
—Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Musical
—Outer Critics Circle Award nomination for Outstanding New Broadway Musical
—Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical
Fela was a busy man; at one point in his life, he had 27 spouses.