“There should be dancing in the streets. There has never been anything like this.” New York Times
Sadler’s Wells’ summer show for 2011 is the Tony Award-winning Broadway dance musical FELA!. A provocative hybrid of dance, theatre and music, exploring the extravagant, decadent and rebellious world of Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti, the production runs at Sadler’s Wells from 20 July to 28 August 2011.
Leading the cast is Olivier Award-nominated Sahr Ngaujah, who returns to the title role, having garnered acclaim for his portrayal of Kuti in New York and London. Featuring many of Fela Kuti’s most captivating songs and Bill T Jones’s visionary staging, FELA! reveals Kuti’s controversial life as an artist and political activist and celebrates his pioneering music.
Recognised as an icon in the international world of rock and roll, soul, jazz and hip-hop, Fela Kuti combined elements of traditional Yoruba, high life and jazz, giving rise to “Afrobeat”. Through his music he condemned military regimes in Nigeria. He was arrested more than 200 times and beaten savagely on many occasions. Despite this he continued to live in Nigeria and produced more than 70 albums during his career.
FELA! was choreographed, directed and co-written (with lyricist Jim Lewis) by Bill T. Jones, a leading light in American contemporary dance. Jones choreographed and performed worldwide as a soloist and duet company with his late partner, Arnie Zane, before forming theBill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Dance Company in 1982. The company last performed at Sadler’s Wells in 2004.
Jones’ awards include the 2007 Tony Award, the 2007 Obie Award and 2006 Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation Callaway Award for his choreography for Spring Awakening and the 2006 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Choreography for The Seven.
FELA! received its world premiere Off-Broadway in September 2008, where it won the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical, before transferring to Broadway’s Eugene O’Neill Theatre in November 2009 where its accolades included three 2010 Tony Awards®, for Best Choreography, Best Costume Design, Best Sound Design, and an Astaire Award for Bill T. Jones’ choreography.
FELA! is directed and choreographed by Bill T. Jones, with a book by Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones, and music and lyrics by Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Conceived by Bill T. Jones, Jim Lewis and Stephen Hendel, the design and Tony Award winning costumes are by Marina Draghici, lighting design by Robert Wierzel and the Tony Award winning sound design by Robert Kaplowitz.
FELA! is produced in association with Shawn ‘Jay-Z’ Carter, Will & Jada Pinkett Smith, Ruth & Stephen Hendel, Roy Gabay, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Edward Tyler Nahem, Slava Smolokowski, Chip Meyrelles/Ken Greiner, Douglas G. Smith, Steve Semlitz/Cathy Glazer, Daryl Roth/True Love Productions, Susan Dietz/Mort Swinsky, Knitting Factory Entertainment and with Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson.
“The dancing is ecstatic, the music lifts the spirits and the stage is alive with movement” The Guardian
Press night: Tuesday 26 July 2011 at 7.30pm
Release issued by: Sadler’s Wells