With "Fela", Broadway Enters A New Age

by ERIC UGLAND · November 24, 2009

Bill T. Jones[All photos by NICK HUNT for PMc] While fellow "Fela" producers Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith might have been missing, Jay-Z walked the red carpet of his play with co-directors Bill T. Jones and Niegel Smith.


Several celebrities came out to support the opening of the musical, including Jimmy Fallon, Roots drummer Questlove (who, incidentally, was one of the first celebrities to see "Fela" when it was just a small Off-Broadway show, and it was his blogs and praise of the show that made it a regular stop for New York celebs), Ben Stiller and director Spike Lee.

Fela  hopefully will help usher in a new age, where American theatre, and, in particular Broadway, is not dominated by old white guys reproducing unoriginal intellectual property over and over again.

The play examines the story of  Fela Anikulap Kuti, a Nigerian political activist and politician, who also happened to be a phenomenal musician, and is considered the pioneer of "Afrobeat" as well as the originator of "Funk". As directed by legendary dancer/choreographer Bill T. Jones, "Fela" is a moving and inherently theatrical experience unlike anything being produced in commercial theatre today.

Jay-Z Questlove Jay-Z, Questlove

Bill T. Jones, Lou Reed Bill T. Jones, Lou Reed

Ben Stiller Sherie Rene Scott Ben Stiller, Sherie Rene Scott

Gayle King Harry Belafonte Gayle King, Harry Belafonte

Jay-Z Jay-Z

Sahr Ngaujah Sahr Ngaujah, Jim Lewis

Kevin Mambo Maija Garcia Kevin Mambo, Maija Garcia

Niegel SmithBill T. Jones Niegel Smith, Bill T. Jones

Spike Lee Spike Lee

Corey Baker Billy Porter Corey Baker, Billy Porter

Niegel Smith Niegel Smith

Jimmy Fallon Saycon Sengbloh Jimmy Fallon, Saycon Sengbloh

Tamara Tunie, Bill T. Jones Tamara Tunie, Bill T. Jones