The show, which will run in rep in the Olivier with Hamlet (starring Rory Kinnear), celebrates Nigerian afrobeat musician and political activist Fela Kuti. It began life with a one month off-Broadway run in 2008 before opening at Broadway's Eugene O'Neill Theatre in October 2009, where it continues an open-ended run.
Broadway stars Sahr Ngaujah and Kevin Mambo, who share the title role, are expected to reprise their performances in London, with Spring Awakening’s Bill T Jones directing and choreographing again. Fela! features a book by Jim Lewis and additional music by Aaron Johnson and Jordan Mclean.
Produced on Broadway by rapper Shawn 'Jay-Z' Carter and movie star Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith, Fela! is billed as "the most original new musical on Broadway ... a hybrid of concert dance and musical theatre". It features several of Kuti's best known songs including "Everything Scatter", "Water No Get Enemy" and "Zombie".
Nicholas Hytner’s reign at the National Theatre isn’t known for its musical output, the three notable exceptions being Jerry Springer the Opera, which opened his tenure in 2003, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in 2004 and Broadway import Caroline, Or Change in 2006.