Fela’s Broadway for Lagos, as Curtain Falls on American Edition

Legend: Fela

Legend: Fela

Jay-Z’s musical Fela about the musical icon and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti is moving to Lagos Nigeria. The musical finished its Broadway run on January 2nd of this year.

During the finale, Edward Tyler Nahem, who co-produced the Broadway run with Jay-Z and Will Smith tells the New York Post,

“Fela Kuti was to the music of the last 40 years what Picasso was to art in the 20th century. Last night, Patti LaBelle (who starred as Fela’s mom in the musical) told me, ‘I have always been Patti LaBelle. I will also be Funmilayo, Fela’s mother, forever.’”

No word on whether they will use Nigerian actors or what this will bring to the Nigerian economy or how much it’ll cost the government.

Meanwhile the curtain was drawn on Fela!, the widely acclaimed Broadway musical inspired by the life, music and activism of Afrobeat maestro Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. The finale played to a packed house of ecstatic spectators.

It was a rousing, throbbing and highly emotional end to the run of one of the most gripping musicals ever produced on Broadway. Among those who saw the closing show was Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, who is also a cousin of Fela Kuti. Mr. Soyinka attended the event with numerous members of his family. Also in attendance was acclaimed producer and filmmaker Spike Lee.

The high-energy show did not disappoint last night as Kevin Mambo, a Zimbabwean actor, played the lead role as “Fela.”

Mr. Mambo turned on a mesmerizing performance for the audience with his quick, witty and sometimes bracing performance, even though it was clear that perhaps a bruising rehearsal had broken his voice. He not only held the crowd spellbound, he broke down and wept profusely towards the end of the show.

Top American singer and actress Patricia Louise Holte, popularly known as Patti Labelle, had a commanding presence as she movingly played Funmilayo, Fela’s mother.

After the show, the cast, production crew, producers and journalists retired to Sarafina, an adjoining bar, for a reception and party. Mr. Soyinka, accompanied by his wife, two daughters and some grand children, as well as Spike Lee and his daughter stayed through the reception that capped the memorable end of the musical.

“This was a grand finale,” Soyinka gushed. Mr. Steve Hendel, the musical’s main producer promised that the show would touch down in Nigeria soon.

The London production of Fela at the National Theater will be filmed on January 13 and broadcast to 370 movie theaters in 20 countries. The producers plan that each theater could have four screenings of the filmed version.

The producers plan to sell tickets for $22 each, offering audiences in the United States and all over the world a chance to see an enthralling film version of Fela! for a reasonable price at their local cinema.

Source: Vanguard Entertainment Nigeria

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