After winning three Tony Awards during its initial 14-month Broadway run that closed last year, the musical “Fela!” will return to the Al Hirschfeld Theater for a limited four-week engagement next month, producer announced.
The show if currently in the midst of a world tour, and will stop on Broadway from July 9 to August 4 before then heading to Australia and Japan. The Broadway run will be presented by producers that include Jay-Z, ?uestlove and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith. The show is trying to capitalize on an empty Broadway show during the summer, traditionally known as a very tough time for Broadway shows. But producers know what they are getting themselves into.
“We hope to make money, obviously, but look, God knows we’re taking a big chance because we don’t have tickets sold,” said Stephen Hendel, one of the lead producers of “Fela!” “We’ll know by August if this is a business model that works on Broadway.”
Hendel, who has worked to develop the show from the begins, also acknowledges that the New York show made sense because there was a summer break in the world tour.
“Fela!” celebrates the life of Nigerian composer Fela Kuti, the artist who combined a blend of jazz, funk, African rhythms and harmonies to form Afrobeat. The musical focuses on Kuti’s life in the late 1970s, which marked the height of his musical fame. Other topics explored in the story include Kuti’s later increased involvement in activism as he voiced his opposition to the military regime in Nigeria.
After an Off Broadway run, the show opened on Broadway in 2009. The musical went on to be nominated for 11 Tony Awards, which was the most of any musical that year. “Fela!” also was nominated for the Best Musical Show Album award at the 2011 Grammy Awards.