Daily Archives: April 18, 2009

Fela! may finally be bound for Broadway

felaplaybill1Well before the short run of the sweaty-and-wonderful Fela! ended at 37 Arts theater last year, there was talk it would move to Broadway as early as this Spring. Well, that didn’t happen. But Bill T. Jones clearly hasn’t given up hope he’ll be able to move the show — which tells the story of the creator of Afrobeat music, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, through his music — to the Great White Way.

Equity chorus calls have been announced for May 4 and 5. They’re looking for dancers, drummers and such for a development project over the summer that is expected to lead to Broadway this fall. (Thanks to @activecultures for spotting this!)

The off-Broadway cast was spectacular, with fine dancing, drumming and singing (Ismael “Bon Fils” Kouyate of Brooklyn’s Mandingo Ambassadors was particularly memorable) with tremendous support from an onstage band consisting of members of Brooklyn’s Afrobeat band Antibalas.

Here’s hoping the auditions yield a great crop of talented performers for the Broadway run. With luck, Antibalas will return in some form as well.

But what about Sahr Ngaujah, who channeled the master so well and picked up a best-actor nomination in the Lucille Lortel Awards because of it? Will he be back? It’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role, so pitch-perfect was Sahr’s portrayal.

Stay tuned for more.

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Need a Passing Strange clue for tonight?

Christian Gibbs was nice enough to provide a clue to the special guest who will be appearing with his band, Lucinda Black Bear, at the Bell House tonight, as reported in a previous Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? post. Here’s what he has to say:

There’ll be some very special guests joining us (including H.R. from P.S. on one song!)

If that clue doesn’t help, your Passing Strange fanclub card will be revoked immediately!

I hope to see you all there!

Even more Passing Strange news

Be sure to check out Passing Strange mom Eisa Davis‘ new off-Broadway show about her aunt — Angela Davis!

And don’t forget Colman Domingo‘s directorial turn, also off-Broadway, Exit Cuckoo!

Strange Freaks: It’s your time!

Lucinda Black Bear (Christian Gibbs, left) play a spirited show at the late, lamented Zipper Theater in Midtown Manhattan in September 2008.

Lucinda Black Bear (Christian Gibbs, left) play a spirited show at the late, lamented Zipper Theater in Midtown Manhattan in September 2008. (Photo by SPM, all rights reserved)

With Spike Lee‘s film version of Passing Strange landing at the Tribeca Film Festival next week, this is prime time for loyal Strange Freaks, as fans of the rock musical are known.

For me, the excitement starts at The Bell House in Gowanus, Brooklyn, on Saturday night, April 18. That’s when Lucinda Black Bear — one of the many musical personas of Passing Strange on Broadway’s guitar phenomenon Christian Gibbs — takes the stage of that awesome venue. A surprise guest is expected to join the band onstage for at least one song. I can’t say who it will be, but I’ll be there at the front! And I’m hoping for a few additional surprises in the audience as well as onstage. We shall see! I’m not expecting any Passing Strange music will be played, but I’m counting on at least two members of the PS musical team to be onstage at some point in the evening.

Christian played in plenty of bands before PS, and he’s continued to play since. He’s one of those guys who just seems to have music in his blood. Every one of his musical personas is special — whether he’s playing as C. Gibbs, the C. Gibbs Collective, or Lucinda Black Bear.

In this case, LBB is headlining at 10 pm sharp (or that’s the official word, though it could start a bit later), taking the stage after KaiserCartel at 9 and The Winterpills at 8. For more info, go here or for tickets in advance, go here.

The fun continues at 6:30 Wednesday night, April 22, at the Apple Store in SoHo, when Spike Lee screens excerpts of the film and does a Q&A. That one’s free. Get there early, as it’ll be a big crowd!

Then for the main event: The only screening of Passing Strange at the Tribeca Film Festival, on Saturday evening, May 2. It looks like advance tickets may be gone, but there will be a waiting line for rush tickets. The DGA theater in Midtown is fairly large, so it might be worth the wait.

KaiserCartel, with Christian Gibbs, left, helping out, play the Zipper Theater in Midtown Manhattan in September 2008.

KaiserCartel, with Christian Gibbs, left, helping out, play the Zipper Theater in Midtown Manhattan in September 2008. (Photo by SPM, all rights reserved)