Having transferred to the NT Olivier following an Off-Broadway run and a move to the Eugene O'Neill Theatre in October 2009, the Afrobeat musical, opened on 16 November 2010 (previews from 6 November) continues until 23 January in rep with Rory Kinnear's Hamlet.
Born in Nigeria in 1938 Fela Anikulapo-Kuti studied music in London, returning to Nigeria and combined elements of traditional Yoruba, high life and jazz to create his Afrobeat style. Critical of the political regime through his music he was constantly harassed, arrested and savagely beaten. He continued to live in Nigeria and produced in excess of 70 albums during his career, touring to the United States and Europe. He died in August 1997 at the age of 58 with a million people attending his funeral.
Initially launched for a month-long Off-Broadway run in September 2008, Fela! won the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical and three 2010 Tony Awards including Best Choreography. Having closed on Broadway on 2 January 2011 the show marked the first time a production had played in New York and at the National simultaneously.
Directed by Tony Award-winning choreographer Bill T Jones, whose recent credits included Spring Awakening, Fela! features a book by Jim Lewis and additional music by Aaron Johnson and Jordan Mclean. The show features several of Kuti's best known songs including "Everything Scatter", "Water No Get Enemy" and "Zombie".
Fela! is produced by Shawn ‘Jay-Z’ Carter, movie star Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith, Ruth and 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 Ahmir Questlove Thompson.