Stephen Hendel, the original lead producer of “FELA!“, has announced that the audio adaptation of the Broadway show, written and directed by filmmaker Funa Maduka, titled “Fela Ten Twenty“, will premiere on Clubhouse on Saturday, May 15 and Sunday, May 16.
“Fela Ten Twenty” will feature an exciting new interpretation of Bill T. Jones‘ and Jim Lewis’ original “FELA!” script, framing the #Endsars movement in the context of Fela Kuti’s legacy. 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 US, 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, Comfort Dangana as DJ Switch, Adeola Adebari as Tunde, Muhammed Agboluaje as the Driver, LaToya Ransom as the Radio Journalist and Aliu Ajala as the Babalawo.
Proceeds from the adaptation 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.
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,” says 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 honour Fela Kuti’s legacy with such immense commitment and dedication,” says Stephen Hendel, whose hit Broadway show was nominated for 11 Tony Awards.
The adaptation is produced by Stephen 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.
Consulting on the production are Sahr Ngaujah, actor, director, producer and original Fela of the Broadway show, “FELA!”; Robert Kaplowitz, Tony award-winning sound designer of “FELA!”; and Abena Koomson-Davis, educator and original cast member of “FELA!”.
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