Casting has been announced for the 2013 touring production of the Tony Award winning smash hit musical Fela! Producers Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith and Ruth & Stephen Hendel are pleased to announce that Grammy Award-winning recording artist and former member of Destiny’s Child Michelle Williams and Atlanta native Duain Richmond will join the national touring production of the hit Award winning Broadway musical Fela! when it plays the Fox Theatre on February 28 t o March 3, 2013.
Atlanta native Duain Richmond will open the Atlanta engagement of Fela! in the starring role of “Fela Kuti.” International R&B superstar Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child fame will star in the role of “Sandra Isadore,” activist and love interest of Fela Kuti. Other principals featured are Melanie Marshall as “Funmilayo,” Fela Kuti’s mother, Ismael Kouyate as “Ismael” and Gelan Lambert as “J.K. Braimah/Tap Dancer/Egungun”. At certain performances, Adesola Osakalumi will also be featured in the role of “Fela Kuti.” Also included in the cast are Oneika Phillips, Shakira Marshall, Jill Vallery, Daniel Soto, Kafi Pierre, Justin Prescott, Jason Herbert and Uti Uyoata.
Born in Sierra Leon, West Africa, Duain Richmond moved to the South, settling in Atlanta in the College Park part of town when he was 10. Duain got his start in theater under the guidance of his personal mentor–Atlanta’s own Freddie Hendricks. As a member of Hendricks’ Youth Ensemble of Atlanta, Duain performed in such shows as Times, B.L.A.C.K., and the internationally acclaimed Soweto! Duain’s impact on the Atlanta theater scene was felt at a very early age. While attending Benjamin Banneker High School (also alma mater to other Atlanta superstars like Ludacris and Monica), he developed the theater department. His other noted theatrical credits have included DiggyDotCom (Made in da Shade, Amsterdam), Ruined and Superior Donuts (Geffen Playhouse, LA). He has also been featured in major films such as The Wool Cap, Stomp the Yard, Daddy’s Little Girls and Lifeless.
A multi-award winning international singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress, Michelle Williams is best known as a member of the record-breaking R&B and Pop sensation, Destiny’s Child, one of the world’s best-selling female groups of all time. Born and raised in the small Chicago suburb of Rockford, Illinois, Michelle always dreamed of a life on stage.
In between recordings and concert tours, Michelle conquered yet another challenging mountain as an actress. First, she took the reigns of Broadway’s Aida in 2003 to critical acclaim and audience raves. Then, in 2006, she took to the television screen for a hotly touted, ground-breaking multi-episode run in the popular UPN sitcom “Half & Half,” where she played the role of Naomi, a record company executive who is HIV-positive. In 2007, Michelle took on her greatest acting challenge when she joined the cast of the Broadway smash, The Color Purple for its national tour. She dazzled in the role of Shug Avery. In 2009, Michelle joined the London West End production of Chicago where she made history as being the first African American woman to play the lead role of Roxie Hart. She reprised her role in February 2010 on Broadway for a limited engagement. In 2011, Michelle starred in the acclaimed touring stage play What My Husband Doesn’t Know, which is now showing on BET.
Michelle is currently in the recording studio working on new material for her pop inspirational album due in 2013. She is also spokesperson for TERI (Training Education & Research Institute) a non-profit dedicated to improving the quality of life for children and adults with developmental and learning disabilities and works with the American Heart Association as an ambassador for the American Stroke Association. Most recently she became a spokesperson for NVEEE (National Voices for Equality, Education and Enlightenment), an organization focused on preventing bullying, violence and suicide among young people.
A triumphant and inspirational tale of courage, passion and love, Fela! is the true story of Kuti, who created a type of music, Afrobeat, and mixed these pounding eclectic rhythms (a blend of jazz, funk and African rhythm and harmonies) with rousing lyrics that openly attacked the corrupt and oppressive military dictatorships that ruled Nigeria and much of Africa. Featuring many of Fela Kuti’s most captivating songs and Bill T. Jones’s visionary staging, the global phenomenon that is Fela! reveals Kuti’s controversial life as an artist and political activist, while at the same time celebrating his pioneering music and commitment to the cause of universal human dignity. “More than a musical, an ecstatic phenomenon” (David Cote, Time Out New York), Fela! “Is a spectacularly inspiring hybrid: theater, music, dance, biography, history lesson, political rally, and religious experience. Sublime” (Joyce Kulhawik).
Fela! is directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Bill T. Jones, with a book by Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones, it was conceived by Bill T. Jones, Jim Lewis and Stephen Hendel. Fela! received three 2010Tony Awards, including Best Choreography.
Fela! had its world premiere Off-Broadway in the summer of 2008, and opened on Broadway at the Eugene O’Neil Theater to rapturous reviews a year later where it played 34 previews and 463 regular performances. Numerous celebrities and dignitaries caught the groundbreaking musical, including First Lady Michelle Obama, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Kanye West, Oprah Winfrey and Hugh Jackman, among others. Prior to its closing on Broadway, London’s Royal National Theatre presented the production as part of its season in the fall of 2010, marking the first time ever that the National Theatre had presented a show that was simultaneously running on Broadway. There, too, the show received rave reviews and numerous awards and accolades. The show went on to tour internationally, selling out theaters in Nigeria, Amsterdam, a return stint in London then a successful tour across the United States, culminating in an acclaimed encore four-week engagement on Broadway during the summer of 2012.
Tickets can be purchased online at foxatltix.com, by calling 855-ATL-TIXX (855-285-8499) and at the Fox Theatre Box Office (660 Peachtree Street Northeast -Monday to Friday, 10 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Ticket prices range from $38 to $63.50.
For more information about the show, please visit the official Fela! website at www.FelaOnBroadway.com.
The Atlanta performance schedule for Fela! is as follows:
Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 8 p.m.
Friday, March 1, 2013 at 8 p.m.
Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sunday, March 3, 2013 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Follow Fela! on Facebook: www.facebook.com/FELAmusical and Twitter: www.twitter.com/FelaMusical.