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Fela!: Patti LaBelle to join cast, closes 2 Jan 2011


Grammy Award-winning, multi-platinum recording artist Patti LaBelle will join the cast of the Broadway musical Fela! on 14 Sep 2010, when she takes over the role of Fela's mother (Funmilayo Anikulapo-Kuti) through to 2 Jan 2011 when the show will play its final performance.

Tony Award-winner Lillias White, who received a 2010 Tony Nomination for her performance as 'Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, will play her final performance on 12 Sep 2010.

Patti LaBelle says, "I am both thrilled and honored to be joining the cast of Fela! on Broadway. After seeing the show, I was struck by the choreography and work of Bill T. Jones, and the passion and joy that overflows from the stage. Fela's mother, Funmilayo, was a strong, truly inspiring woman and I am so privileged to be able to pay tribute to her on the Broadway stage."

Fela! received three 2010 Tony Awards, including Best Choreography, Best Costume Design and Best Sound Design. It is currently playing at Broadway's Eugene O'Neill Theatre, where it opened on 23 Nov 2010, following previews from 19 Oct 2010.

Fela! opened to excellent reviews: This is an event (newyorktheatreguide); Singular, sensational show (NY Times); Earns its exclamation point, joyfully and relentlessly (USA Today).

The musical is about the extravagant, decadent and rebellious world of Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti. Using his pioneering music (a blend of jazz, funk and African rhythm and harmonies), Fela! explores Kuti's controversial life as artist, political activist and revolutionary musician.The show is a hybrid of concert, dance and musical theater.

This musical is directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Bill T. Jones (Spring Awakening), with a book by Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones.

The show currently features: Sahr Ngaujah and Kevin Mambo who alternate the role of 'Fela Kuti,' Lillias White (Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti), Saycon Sengbloh (Sandra), Corey Baker, Hettie Vyrine Barnhill, Lauren DeVeaux, Nicole Chantal DeWeever, Elasea Douglas, Rujeko Dumbutshena, Aimee Graham Wodobode, Rasaan-Elijah 'Talu' Green, Shaneeka Harrell, Ismael Kouyate, Gelan Lambert, Shakira Marshall, Afi McClendon, Adesola Osakalumi, Jeffrey Page, Daniel Soto, Iris Wilson, Catherine Foster, Abena Koomson, Farai Malianga, Jill M. Vallery and J.L. Williams.

Scenic and costume design is by Marina Draghici, lighting design is by Rob Wierzel, sound design is by Rob Kaplowitz and projection design is by Peter Negrini. Aaron Johnson and Jordan McLean have provided the musical arrangements.

The musical had its world premiere in 2008 at Off-Broadway's 37 Arts. That production won the 2009 Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical and Best Choreography.

The musical is presented on Broadway by Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, Will & Jada Pinkett Smith, Ruth & Stephen Hendel and Roy Gabay.

Patti LaBelle

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