Jay-Z, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have signed on as producers of the new Broadway musical “Fela!” and will attend the show’s opening night at the Eugene O’Neill Theater next Monday, Nov. 23, a publicist for the production said.
“Fela!” represents the first time that Jay-Z and the Smiths have joined a producing team of a Broadway show. Their artistic involvement in the musical is bound to be minimal, given that the show is already in previews and had a critically acclaimed run Off Broadway last year.
But the presence of three high-wattage celebrities at opening night, and the likelihood that they will promote the show through television appearances and media interviews, is bound to raise the public profile of “Fela!” at a time when theatergoers have plenty of choices for Broadway musicals.
Revivals of “Ragtime,” “Finian’s Rainbow,” and “Bye Bye Birdie” opened this fall, as did the new musical “Memphis,” and the much-anticipated revival of Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music” opens next month. Several musical entries from last season, like “Billy Elliot,” “Hair” and “Next to Normal,” are still going strong.
Conceived by the Tony Award-winning choreographer Bill T. Jones, “Fela!” centers on the life and work of the Afrobeat superstar Fela Anikulapo Kuti.