Celebrity Stage

Producer Jay-Z recruits Destiny's Child alumna Michelle Williams to star in Fela!

Producer Jay-Z recruits Destiny's Child alumna Michelle Williams to star in Fela!

Michelle Williams stars in Fela at AT&T Performing Arts Center
Michelle Williams joins the cast of Fela!, which comes to Dallas in May as part of the Lexus Broadway Series. Photo by Derek Blanks
Fela musical at AT&T Performing Arts Center
Fela! is the story of Fela Kuti, political activist and creator of Afrobeats. Photo courtesy of AT&T Performing Arts Center
Fela musical at AT&T Performing Arts Center
Fela! has won three Tony Awards, including Best Choreography. Photo courtesy of AT&T Performing Arts Center
Fela musical at AT&T Performing Arts Center
Fela! has been called “a spectacularly inspiring hybrid [of] theater, music, dance, biography, history lesson, political rally and religious experience.” Photo courtesy of AT&T Performing Arts Center
Michelle Williams stars in Fela at AT&T Performing Arts Center
Fela musical at AT&T Performing Arts Center
Fela musical at AT&T Performing Arts Center
Fela musical at AT&T Performing Arts Center

Music and musical fans are in for a treat when the Tony Award-winning Fela! hits the Winspear Opera House stage for a limited run in May. Producers Jay-Z, Jada Pinkett and Will Smith, and Ruth and Stephen Hendel recently announced that Destiny’s Child alumna Michelle Williams will join the national tour of the Broadway hit musical.

It likely wasn’t a tough sell. You may recall that Jay-Z’s better half, Beyonce, once was the headliner of the record-breaking R&B/pop trio.

 Williams dazzled as Shug Avery in the national tour of The Color Purple and made history as the first African-American woman to play Roxie Hart in Chicago.

Fela! is the true story of Fela Kuti, creator of Afrobeat, who mixed pounding rhythms — a blend of jazz, funk, and African rhythm and harmonies — with rousing lyrics to attack the corrupt and oppressive military dictatorships that ruled Nigeria and much of Africa.

The musical features Kuti’s most captivating songs and celebrates his pioneering music and commitment to the cause of universal human dignity. It has been called “a spectacularly inspiring hybrid [of] theater, music, dance, biography, history lesson, political rally and religious experience.”

Grammy Award-winning recording artist Williams is no stranger to this kind of stage. She starred in Aida in 2003 and dazzled as Shug Avery in the national tour of The Color Purple. In 2009, Williams joined the London West End production of Chicago, where she made history as the first African-American woman to play the lead role of Roxie Hart.

“This musical journey is one that I’ve wanted to be a part of since first seeing it on stage in 2008,” Williams said a statement. “The sounds, the passion and the politics of Fela Kuti have long intrigued me and speak to my heart.”

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Fela! comes to the AT&T Performing Arts Center May 7-May 19, as part of the Lexus Broadway Series. Stay tuned to CultureMap for ticket information and on-sale date.