Eleven years ago tonight, Broadway's Eugene O'Neill Theatre was celebrating the opening night of the thrilling, new, original Broadway musical with an Afrobeat score - Fela! sharing the story of Nigerian music legend Fela Kuti.
Among the list of producers of this musical were entertainment superstars making their Broadway producing debut: Jay-Z, Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith including an associate producer with co-frontman and extraordinary drummer of The Roots, Questlove who can be seen on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Following an Off-Broadway run, Fela! moved to Broadway and went on to earn 11 Tony Award nominations winning 3 including Best Choreographer for its Director/Choreographer Bill T. Jones.
Infused with his energetic saxophone riffs, Fela Kuti used his music and lyrics as his voice to amplify the struggles and injustice within Nigeria. The dynamic cast of the musical led by Moulin Rouge's and Tony Award nominated Sahr Ngaujah as the larger than life Fela Kuti performed brassy, jazzy, passionate number after number in the show. Portraying Fela Kuti's lover Sandra was Saycon Sengbloh with Broadway royalty Lillias White as Fela's mother Funmilayo.
Let's have a look at moments from the exciting musical in action on its opening night anniversary.