Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-07-10
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Melanie Marshall on the show 'Fela!'
NUNN ON ONE: PERFORMANCE
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2012-04-11

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Melanie Marshall has crossed the pond to perform as Fela Kuti's mother Funmilayo in the touring production of Fela! Audiences now can witness the presence and operatic notes that Melanie brings to the role. Windy City Times learned all about her background after attending this eye-popping stellar show based on the Nigerian innovator's incredible life.

Windy City Times: Good morning, Melanie. So, you are British?

Melanie Marshall: I am British-born!

WCT: Did you study theater there?

Melanie Marshall: No, I studied classical singing at the Royal College of Music. I stumbled into musical theatre almost by accident—well, not by accident, but I was asked to audition for my first show, Carmen Jones, which is a Black version of Carmen. I understudied the role of Cindy Lou. I got to sing in that and quite liked it. Afterwards, I did the Glyndebourne's version of Porgy and Bess.

WCT: Did you see the newest version?

Melanie Marshall: No. I want to see that.

WCT: I heard it has been changed and is controversial.

Melanie Marshall: Since I did a version in London, it would be very interesting to see another side.

WCT: They are saying it will win several Tonys.

Melanie Marshall: Oh, for sure it will. Audra McDonald is a great singer.

WCT: So how did you wind up being a part of Fela!?

Melanie Marshall: A friend of mine in New York rang me and said, "I've just seen your next show. Look it up; it's called Fela!" At first I thought he said Othello. I looked it up on YouTube and only saw the beginning, nothing of my part. I am a bit funny like that. It needs to come from me as opposed to what I have seen.

So that was the show to audition for in 2010. Every Black actor, actress, dancer under the sun came from the corners of the world to be in it. It has been a rollercoaster ever since. It is a true story so you are not playing a character but a real life woman. People come to the show who knew him—be it a taxi driver or a family member, there is always somebody who knows Fela. I hold my hands up and say, "Before my friend called me I had never heard of him."

WCT: This has been a learning experience.

Melanie Marshall: Total new learning experience and I absolutely love it! His sons, Femi and Seun, come to the show. When we were in Detroit his eldest daughter, Yeni, came. There was an exhibition at the African American Museum and she went to that. She was very emotional because there were pictures she had never seen of her and her father.

WCT: Femi has his own career in music.

Melanie Marshall: Yes, and Seun. They go around, sing and carry on the message.

WCT: So you beat everyone out for this role.

Melanie Marshall: I did and it makes me quite humble. It makes me feel good that somebody can see my worth and potential.

WCT: How do you get in the frame of mind to be her? I saw you come out there being such a presence.

Melanie Marshall: I get in the theater and I do what I have to do. When I put on the glasses that is when I am her. I do Funmilayo after that. I am in that mode.

WCT: Your voice is very powerful in the show. How is that last solo? That has to be tough, it is so long.

Melanie Marshall: It is a long one but it is a pleasure. I am the fourth Funmilayo in America to do it. I do it in a completely different way. I am glad because Bill T. Jones is one of those directors that will not say it has to always be this way. He takes your attributes and puts that into the production. I am always proud to say that man has given me another five notes on the top of my range. He is very subtle in bringing something out of you that you don't know you have.

WCT: He wrote the book for the show, and it is not a typical biography. Sahr Ngaujah, who plays Fela, is so talented.

Melanie Marshall: He is quite ridiculous.

WCT: He knew how to involve the audience and have a sense of humor.

Melanie Marshall: Sahr has been with the production since the offset as a workshop. He really is Fela! I want to give a shout-out to his alternate who plays him for two shows. You should come back and see him. He, too, is fantastic. You can imagine being onstage for two hours.

WCT: He is covered in sweat and needs a break.

Melanie Marshall: Yes. He is onstage for all of that time. There is no time to nip off and do what you need to do. I think he has a five-minute break, if that. Sahr runs like three miles around the neighborhood before the start of the show to get his energy going.

WCT: So that is how he gets in the zone!

Melanie Marshall: Yes, and he does it very well, as you see.

WCT: I wonder what Fela would do today with the current gay oppression that is in Nigeria. His message is still strong for audiences now.

Melanie Marshall: His main message is courage. If you have a dream or a goal, stick with it. This man was beaten, tortured, imprisoned [ more than ] 200 times. He still got up and wrote another song to get the government in this way. He never stopped. He got a lot of his political strength from his mother. She was a very strong feminist and political activist in her own right. She was the first woman to drive a car in Nigeria. How ridiculous is that?

WCT: Has the show been to Nigeria?

Melanie Marshall: I am hoping we can go, but the Broadway cast went last year. That was part of the promise made to them. They went for four weeks just before we started this tour. They had an amazing time.

WCT: I bet [ there was ] an outpouring of love.

Melanie Marshall: There was some reticence at first because it was an American company telling [ Nigerians' ] story. Then they realized this is a very true heartfelt production.

Run to see Fela! at the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St, before it moves on after April 15. Visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com for tickets and show times.


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Goodman Theatre announces 2019/2020 season 2019-07-18 - ( Chicago, IL ) Goodman Theatre announces the casting and creative teams for its 2019/2020 "Theater That Moves" Season openers. The season kicks-off ...


Gay News

THEATER True West 2019-07-17 - Playwright: Sam Shepard At: Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. Tickets: Steppenwolf.org. Runs through: Aug. 25 What is the "true west?" Deserts ...


Gay News

First Floor Theater to begin Season 8 with Sugar in Our Wounds 2019-07-17 - By Donja R. Love, Directed by FFT Company Member Mikael Burke, October 19, 2019 - November 23, 2019 On a plantation during ...


Gay News

Promethean's 14th season to explore status of women, societies past, imagined 2019-07-17 - The rights and roles of women in society will be examined in Promethean Theatre Ensemble's 2019-20 season via three plays all penned or ...


Gay News

Barrel of Monkeys Presents Free Summer Workshops, Performances 2019-07-17 - CHICAGO ( July 16, 2019 ) — Barrel of Monkeys, one of Chicago's leaders in arts education, will present free creative writing workshops ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Wolf Play 2019-07-17 - Playwright: Hansol Jung At: The Gift Theatre, 4802 N. Milwaukee, Chicago. Tickets: https://www.thegifttheatre.org. Runs through: Aug 18 The Gift Theatre's midwest premiere ...


Gay News

THEATER Strange Heart Beating 2019-07-16 - Playwright: Kristin Idaszak At: Cloudgate Theatre at the Frontier, 1106 W. Thorndale Ave. Tickets: CloudgateTheatre.com; $5-$45. Runs through: July 28 There's potential for ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW The Drag Seed 2019-07-15 - Author: David Cerda Directed by: Cheryl Snodgrass. At: Mary's Attic, 5400 N. Clark St. Tickets: : $20-44; BrownPaperTickets.com. Runs through: Aug. 24 ...


Gay News

Auditorium Theatre receives Outstanding Historic Theatre Award 2019-07-15 - ( CHICAGO, IL ) On July 14, 2019, the Auditorium Theatre received the League of Historic American Theatres' ( LHAT ) Outstanding Historic ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW King Lear 2019-07-10 - Playwright: William Shakespeare At: Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Tickets: Redtwist.org and 773-728-7529; $35-$40. Runs through: Aug. 4 What ...


 



Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.