Singer Patti LaBelle is joining the cast of the Broadway play Fela!
On September 14, LaBelle takes over the role of Fela's mother, Funmilayo Anikulapo Kuti. She'll replace Tony Award-winner Lillias White in the part of Funmilayo and will play Funmilayo until the last performance of Fela! in January.
Fela! is the story of the legendary Nigerian Afrobeat musician Fela Kuti. His mother, Funmilayo, was a Nigerian women's rights activist, educator, and politician. She died in 1978 of injuries received when military police stormed her son's Kalakuta Republic compound in Lagos and threw her from a second floor window.
The Broadway production of Fela! received three 2010 Tony Awards, including Best Choreography, Best Sound Design and Best Costume Design. In November, the play opens at the Royal National Theatre in London. This is the first time a show has been produced at the National Theatre while simultaneously running on Broadway.