Ahmanson moves 'Fela!' from late April to mid-December start
Faced with reshuffling the Ahmanson Theatre’s season after its planned January start of a revival of “Funny Girl” fell through, Michael Ritchie, the artistic director of Center Theatre Group, has begun moving pieces around to fill the gap.
On Thursday, Ritchie bought himself time by jumping the touring production of “Fela!” (pictured) ahead by a couple of slots. It will now run Dec. 14-Jan. 22 (plus a Dec. 13 preview) instead of April 27-June 3.
“We are fortunate to be able to make this change,” Ritchie said, noting that the producers of "Fela!," who include rap star Shawn (Jay-Z) Carter and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, revised its tour schedule to help the Ahmanson out. Ritchie said further news about the season’s revamping will come in the next few weeks.
“Fela!” opened this week at San Francisco’s Curran Theatre and will move down the coast after finishing there on Dec. 11. The musical had a 14-month run on Broadway that ended in January. It’s based on the life and Afrobeat music of the Nigerian pop star Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Bill T. Jones is the director and choreographer and co-wrote the book with Jim Lewis. “Fela!” won three 2010 Tony Awards, for sound design, costume design and choreography.
The 2,064-seat Ahmanson is Center Theatre Group's biggest revenue-earner, and the nonprofit company counts on successful, mass-appeal shows there to help subsidize the less commercially oriented fare at the Mark Taper Forum and Kirk Douglas Theatre. In 2004-05, bad luck struck twice in the same slot when budget problems led to the cancellations of a planned Ahmanson revival of "Anything Goes" and then to the show announced as its replacement, "Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life." The empty slot contributed to a big revenue shortfall that season for CTG.
-- Mike Boehm
Photo: Scene from the musical "Fela!" Credit: FelaOnBroadway.com