FELA! Comes to Lagos
Although the election fever that has hit Nigeria threatens to overwhelm every other event,
the coming of acclaimed Broadway musical, FELA!, is generating a lot of sensation. The
promise to bring the award-winning play that celebrates the life of afro beat legend, Fela
Anikulapo-Kuti, became a reality last week when the cast arrived Lagos, with a renewed
promise that Nigerians are going to see the play live and pure.
Among notable Nigerians that have identified with FELA!’s ‘homecoming’, is the Nobel
laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, who, on Thursday, addressed the media alongside the cast and
crew at The Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, where the musical will be staged between
April 20 and 25. It is the first Broadway show to be performed in Sub-Saharan Africa.
FELA!, the landmark Broadway musical, which won three Tony Awards (Broadway’s
highest honour), including Best Choreography (Bill T. Jones), will star its original Broadway
cast — with Sahr Ngaujah stepping out in his Tony-nominated role of Fela Kuti while
music’s provided by the internationally renowned Antibalas as well as other members of the
New York City Afro-beat community. The Sierra Leone-American protagonist is in high
spirits, and has promised the audience a wonderful experience.
He says, “It’s good to be in Nigeria, the home of Fela. When we performed FELA! at
London’s Royal National Theatre it was fun and the turnout of Nigerians was great but the
high expectation we see from Nigerians to have the show in Lagos is bigger than anything I
have seen. The buzz about the show makes me so excited I can’t wait to jump on stage and
portray the personality of the man who was a voice to the voiceless and beacon of hope to the
hopeless. I can’t wait to go to Afrika Shrine.”
Concurrently with the Broadway production, FELA! opened and triumphed at London’s
Royal National Theatre for a three-month sold-out run. The production was nominated for
three Olivier Awards, London theatre’s highest honour, including Best Musical, Best Actor
(Sahr Ngaujah) and Best Choreography (Bill T. Jones). This Nigerian engagement will be the
first since the closing of the Broadway and London productions and the NTLive performance
which was broadcast to in 370 cinemas worldwide.