Nigeria: Audio Adaptation of Broadway Musical 'Fela!' to Debut On Clubhouse

Fela Kuti

The production will feature an interpretation of Bill T. Jones' and Jim Lewis' original FELA! script framing the #Endsars movement in the context of Fela Kuti's legacy.

Come May 15 and 16, 2021, the audio adaptation of the Broadway musical 'FELA!' will make its debut on Clubhouse, the popular audio chat platform.

Nigeria represents one of the most active users on the Clubhouse which boasts over 20 million members.

Titled 'Fela Ten Twenty', the adaptation will feature a new interpretation of Bill T. Jones' and Jim Lewis' original 'FELA!' script, framing the #EndSARS movement in the context of Fela Kuti's legacy.

Stephen Hendel, the Original Lead Producer of the Broadway Show, FELA!, said proceeds from the show will support GEANCO, whose David Oyelowo Leadership Scholarship provides full tuition, healthcare, and social and psychological support to young female survivors of terrorism and gender inequality.

Music for the production will be recorded in Lagos, Nigeria, by The Cavemen, the band rekindling Nigerian highlife with their new album Roots.

The production will feature a talented cast of actors from Nigeria, the UK, and the U.S., including Sir Marcell as Fela Kuti, Jumoké Fashola as Funmilayo Kuti, NC Grey as Najite- a Kalakuta Queen, Nneamaka Nwadei as Omolara- a Kalakuta Queen, Malikat Rufai as Sandra Izsadore, Uche Ogodi as J.K. Braimah and Comfort Dangana as DJ Switch.

Others are, Adeola Adebari as Tunde, Muhammed Agboluaje as the Driver, LaToya Ransom as the Radio Journalist, and Aliu Ajala as the Babalawo.

The production is produced by Hendel, Funa Maduka, and Ọlabimpe Ọlaniyan, daughter of the late renowned Fela scholar, Tejumola Olaniyan.

Kingsley Okorie and Benjamin James of The Cavemen are Music Directors; Marcellus Wesley is both Technical Director and Sound Designer; Ellen Marte is both VFX Director and Graphic Designer and Amanda Ezechi is Marketing Director.

Inspiration

The spark for this ambitious production came when a group of four friends, Eniola Mafe, Omolola Adele-Oso, Chinedu Enekwe, and Audu Maikori, were inspired to host a table read of FELA! on Clubhouse to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the close of the show's Broadway run.

They approached Maduka to direct, who pitched reimagining it, and the audio play adaptation was born.

"Fela's music, the foundation for Afrobeat, demanded global engagement with African political thought. In the aftermath of the October 2020 #EndSars protests against police brutality, his message still achingly resounds. This production is a love letter to those fighting for a better Nigeria," said Fela Ten Twenty writer, director, and producer, Funa Maduka.

"Fela belongs to Nigeria, Africa, and the world. It is a thrill to have the show reimagined by a team of young, creative Nigerians. I'm proud to support these artists who have come together to honor Fela Kuti's legacy with such immense commitment and dedication," says Stephen Hendel, whose hit Broadway show was nominated for 11 Tony Awards.

Fela! was based on events in the life of groundbreaking Nigerian composer and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti. It portrayed Kuti in the days when he was the target of 1,000 government soldiers assigned to end his public performances at the legendary Lagos nightclub The Shrine.

The musical ran Off-Broadway for one month in 2008.

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