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After thrilling audiences on three continents, the hit musical FELA! will be presented in Washington, DC’s Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Sidney Harman Hall (610 F Street, NW), kicking off a National tour. Presented by Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, and Ruth and Stephen Hendel, in association with The National Theatre production, FELA! is directed and choreographed by Tony Award® winner Bill T. Jones.

Tony Award® nominee Sahr Ngaujah returns to star as Fela, the role he originated in the Broadway production. The rest of the cast is comprised of the best of Broadway and London’s Royal National Theatre companies. FELA! will run from September 13 – October 9, 2011, at STC’s Sidney Harman Hall.

FELA!, the winner of three Tony Awards®, is the true story of the legendary Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, whose soulful Afrobeat rhythms ignited a generation. Inspired by his mother, a civil rights champion, he defied a corrupt and oppressive military government and devoted his life and music to the struggle for freedom and human dignity. FELA! is a triumphant tale of courage, passion and love, featuring Fela Kuti’s captivating music and the visionary direction and choreography of Bill T. Jones. Time Out New York proclaims that “FELA! is more than a musical; it’s an ecstatic phenomenon.” Bill T. Jones says of the production, “One has to experience it as much with one’s hips as one’s ears, eyes and mind.”

“We continue to strive to bring some of the best theatre productions to D.C. that wouldn’t be seen here otherwise. We are thrilled to present Bill T. Jones’ exciting mix of world music, theatre and dance that tells the story of Fela Kuti,” says Chris Jennings, Managing Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company. “The Shakespeare Theatre Company has presented hugely successful productions of Phèdre, The Great Game: Afghanistan and Black Watch, and we’ve seen that theatregoers in the D.C. area have a tremendous appetite for top-quality presentations.” STC Artistic Director Michael Kahn adds, “FELA! is original and exciting, the perfect show to compliment our 25th Anniversary Season. I’m thrilled to welcome Bill T. Jones and the amazing cast to our theatre.”

Tickets are now on sale to the general public

Call:  202.547.1122 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 202.547.1122 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Or, visit ShakespeareTheatre.org to reserve tickets for this production.

FELA! CAST

SAHR NGAUJAH will reprise his Tony Award® nominated and Olivier Award nominated role of Fela Kuti for the National tour of FELA! Mr. Ngaujah has worked with a host of accomplished directors from all over the world, including Gerrit Timmers and Faulk Richter and can be seen on the TNT television show Passing Glory and in films A Lesson Before Dying, The Signal, Stomp the Yard and Blood Done Sign My Name. Under the supervision of Freddie Hendricks, Ngaujah added the accomplishment of director to his extensive experience, working with the National Black Arts Festival and Tweetakt Festival in Antwerp. During eight years of work in Amsterdam, he was theatre director and developer with Rotterdam’s Lef, ACT Festival and collaborator with Made n da Shade. Mr. Ngaujah is a first generation Sierra Leonean and is currently the art director for the Sierra Leone hip-hop act Bajah + The Dry Eye Crew.

THE DIRECTOR

BILL T. JONES is both the director and choreographer of FELA! He is a 2007 and 2010 Tony Award® winner and most recently a 2010 Kennedy Center Honoree. Mr. Jones is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2007 Obie Award and 2006 Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation CALLAWAY Award for his choreography for Spring Awakening; the recipient of the 2007 USA Eileen Harris Norton Fellowship; the 2006 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Choreography for The Seven; the 2005 Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement; the prestigious 2005 Wexner Prize; and the Aaron Davis Hall Harlem Renaissance Award. He is also a MacArthur “Genius” Award recipient, was named one of America’s Irreplaceable Dance Treasures by the Dance Heritage Coalition in 2000 and was awarded the 2003 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for which recipients are considered trailblazers who have redefined their art and reshaped the cultural landscape.

He began his dance training at the State University of New York at Binghamton (SUNY), where he studied classical ballet and modern dance. After living in Amsterdam, Mr. Jones returned to SUNY, where he became co-founder of the American Dance Asylum in 1973. Before forming Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in 1982, Mr. Jones choreographed and performed nationally and internationally as a soloist and duet company with his late partner, Arnie Zane.

In addition to creating more than 100 works for his own company, Mr. Jones has received many commissions to create dances for modern and ballet companies including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Axis Dance Company, Boston Ballet, Lyon Opera Ballet, Berkshire Ballet, Berlin Opera Ballet and Diversions Dance Company and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company’s The Flight Project. He has also received numerous commissions to create new works for his own company, including premieres for the American Dance Festival, the Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and for St. Luke’s Chamber Orchestra. In 1995, Mr. Jones directed and performed in a collaborative work with Toni Morrison and Max Roach called Degga, commissioned by Lincoln Center’s Serious Fun Festival and with Jessye Norman in How! Do! We! Do! which premiered at New York’s City Center in 1999 as part of Lincoln Center’s Great Performers New Visions series. The Breathing Show, Mr. Jones’s evening-long solo, toured for three years, and his second solo show, As I Was Saying…, toured for more than two. He has directed and choreographed for theatre and opera, most recently choreographing Off-Broadway for the New York Theatre Workshop’s production of The Seven for which he was awarded the 2006 Lucille Lortel Award for Best Choreography and for the Broadway musical Spring Awakening, for which he received the Tony Award® for Outstanding Choreography.

Mr. Jones has received honorary doctorates from the Art Institute of Chicago, Bard College, Columbia College, the Juilliard School, Swarthmore College, Yale University and the SUNY Binghamton Distinguished Alumni Award.

THE CREATIVE TEAM

FELA! was conceived by Bill T. Jones, Jim Lewis and Stephen Hendel based on the life of Fela Kuti. The design team includes Scenic and Costume Designer Marina Draghici, Lighting Designer Robert Wierzel, Sound Designer Robert Kaplowitz and Projection Designer Peter Nigrini.

FELA!

The Hit Musical

DATES: September 13-October 9, 2011

LOCATION: Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F Street, NW

TIMES: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays at 7:30 p.m., Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.

TICKETS: $25-$130. Swww.ShakespeareTheatre.org

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