This show is archived
Now Extended! Must Close August 20.
Co-produced with Round House Theatre
Round House Theatre and Olney Theatre Center combine forces for an epic co-production of the award-winning musical Fela!, the first professional production anywhere in the world since its national tour more than ten years ago.
Be transported to 1978, to meet musician, activist, and global superstar Fela Anikulapo Kuti at his farewell show at the Afrika Shrine nightclub in Lagos, Nigeria. After losing his own mother in a dictator’s violent attack, Fela’s final act in Nigeria is to use his iconic music—a spirited blend of traditional African drumming, jazz, and funk—to tell his story of survival and global revolution through Afrobeat and floor-shaking dance. The Tony Award-winning and Grammy-nominated musical “captures the spirit of rebellion…that dwells within all of us” (The New York Times) in the inspiring true story of one man’s fight against corruption and oppression.
"It was a win to land [Duain] Richmond [as Fela], who has previously played the title character, including as a Broadway alternate and on tour. But the accomplishment of this “Fela!” extends beyond its star, to its sound, design, dance, pacing and supporting turns, all synthesized into a show that does the Shrine proud."
- The Washington Post 7/18/23
Music and lyrics by
Bill T. Jones and Jim Lewis
(Additional music by Aaron Johnson and Jordan McLean)
Music Direction by
S. Renee Clark
Fela! is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts
Cabaret Seats in the Africa Shrine
The set design for Fela! includes room for a limited number of audience members to sit next to the stage at cabaret tables in the middle of the action (scroll down to see a photo of the set). To feel any closer to Fela's Afrika Shrine nightclub, you'd have to buy a plane ticket to Lagos. There is room for two people at each table, and like a proper nightclub, you must be at least 21 years old to sit there.
Watch the trailer for "Fela!"
Effects Warning: This production of Fela! uses theatrical haze, fog, incense, and loud sounds of simulated gunfire.
Terrence J BennettEnsemble
Melody A. BettsFunmilayo
Patrick Leonardo CasimirEnsemble
Vaughn Ryan MidderEnsemble
Yewande OdetoyinboEnsemble/US Funmilayo
Galen J. WilliamsEnsemble/US Fela
Please note: At select Saturday and Wednesday matinees beginning July 22, the role of Fela Kuti, normally played by Duain Richmond will be played by Galen J. Williams. This is indicated on the individual purchase page for the affected performances.
Melody A. Betts' final performance as Funmilayo will be Sunday, August 13. Yewande Odetoyinbo will assume the role for performances between August 16 - 20.
Jamie BerryProduction Stage Manager
Kim James BeyDialect Coach
S. Renee ClarkMusic Director/Conductor
Kelly ColburnProjections Designer
Rueben D. EcholesCostume Designer
Sherrice MojganiLighting Design
Matt RoweSound Designer
Arnel SanciancoScenic Designer
David SingletonAssociate Choreographer
Fela's Live Band
Conductor/Piano - S. Renee Clark
Drums/Asst. Music Director - Lorenzo Sanford
Congas/Percussion - Carroll (CV) Dashiell
Trumpet - Joe Herrera
Trombone - Christopher Steele
Tenor Sax - Brent Birckhead
Baritone Sax - Leigh Pilzer
Guitar - DeAnte Haggerty-Willis
Guitar - Dòkun Oke
Bass - Reginald Payne
In The Press
- NBC Washington - (Video) "'Fela!' musical in Maryland highlights Afrobeat pioneer"
- The Washington Post - Review | "Exhilarating ‘Fela!’ is your ticket to the coolest club in Nigeria"
- The Washington Post - Feature | "‘Fela!’ finds its way to Washington"
- OkayPlayer | 'Fela!' Director Lili-Anne Brown's Ancestral Pilgrimage To The Stage
- OkayAfrica - Fela! Star Duain Richmond on the Enduring Legacy of the Nigerian Icon
- TANTV - "Fela! A Musical Theatre Immortalizes the Father of Afrobeat"
- DC Theater Arts - "Round "House Theatre and Olney Theatre Center strike gold with ‘Fela!’"
- Broadway World - "a splendid production not to be missed. Because who knows when it will ever come again — and as well done?"
- MD Theatre Guide - "If you are lucky enough to get a ticket to see 'FELA!' it will be a performance you will remember for the rest of your life. "
- Morris Theatre - "Fela! is an uproarious, exhilarating Afrobeat experience with spectacular direction and choreography, anchored down by stunning vocals and charismatic acting."
- Washington Speaks - "Fela! the new stage show which will leave you breathless..."
On The Blog
Upcoming Community Events
When: Thursday August 3rd 2023 at 6:00pm
Where: William H. Graham Actors' Hall
$45 (Ticket includes Community Night mixer and theatre ticket
Past Community Events
Where: Sunday, June 25, 2023 from 11 AM to 12 PM
Location: Olney Public Library (3500 Olney Laytonsville Rd, Olney, MD 20832)
FREE (No registration. Just show up!)
When: Sunday July 30th 2023 at 6:30pm
Where: Omi's Pavilion
When: Tuesday, July 25, 2023 at 6:45 PM
Where: AFI Silver Theatre (8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD 20910)
Tickets: $8 - $13 via AFI
FINDING FELA tells the story of Nigerian singer Fela Anikulapo Kuti's life, his music and his social and political importance. He created a new musical movement, Afrobeat, using that forum to express his revolutionary political opinions against the dictatorial Nigerian government of the 1970s and '80s. His influence helped bring a change toward democracy in Nigeria and promoted Pan-Africanist politics to the world. The power and potency of Fela's message is completely current today and is expressed in the political movements of oppressed people, who embrace Fela's music and message in their struggle for freedom. Directed by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney (TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE). (Note courtesy of Kino Lorber.) DIR/PROD Alex Gibney; PROD Jack Gulick. U.S., 2014, color/b&w, 119 min. NOT RATED
When: Saturday July 22nd 2023 at 4:00pm
Where: 1938 Original Theatre
Free with RSVP
When: Thursday, July 13, 2023 from 5:00 to 6:00 PM
Location: Roberts Mainstage, Olney Theatre Center
Watch the video of the event here.
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July 7 - August 20 2023