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International sensation 'Fela!' to come to ASU Gammage

January 18, 2013

ASU Gammage has announced two performances of "Fela!" coming to ASU Gammage, April 23-24. Produced by Shawn "JAY Z" Carter, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Ruth and Stephen Hendel, Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and The National Theatre of Great Britain, the musical explores the extravagant world of Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti. Michelle Williams will play the role of Sandra Isadore, activist and love interest to Fela Kuti.

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

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.

Throughout her career in Destiny’s Child, Williams explored solo terrain by releasing two gospel recordings: the award-winning “Heart To Yours” (2002), which featured a collaboration with the legendary Shirley Caesar, and “Do You Know” (2004).  At the end of 2008, Williams joined forces with producer Rico Love and created a fresh and innovative sound on her dance/pop album, “Unexpected.” The first single released from the album, “We Break the Dawn,” quickly became a huge club hit, topping the Billboard Hot Dance/Club Play and Hot Dance Airplay charts.

In between recordings and concert tours, Williams has conquered yet another challenging mountain as an actress. First, she took the reins 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. Later that year, she was featured on FOX’s successful “Celebrity Duets” series.

In 2007, Williams 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, Williams 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. Williams is currently in the recording studio working on new material for her pop inspirational album due in 2013.

"Fela!" is a provocative hybrid of dance, theater, music, biography and a party like no-other and is directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Bill T. Jones. "Fela!" is based on the life of Fela Kuti, who created Afrobeat – a blend of jazz, funk and African rhythm and harmonies – and mixed these sensual eclectic rhythms with simple but powerful lyrics that openly assailed Nigeria’s corrupt and oppressive dictatorships. "Fela!" reveals Kuti's life as an artist and human rights activist and celebrates his pioneering music in what has been hailed as one of the most exciting, exhilarating and vital stage experiences in recent memory. 

Performances are at 7:30 p.m., April 23-24. Tickets are available through an authorized ticket seller found only at Ticketmaster 1-800-982-2787 and by visiting Group orders may be placed by calling 480.965. 6678.

Dana McGuiness,
ASU Gammage