Windy City Media Group Frontpage News Home
CELEBRATING 28+ YEARS OF Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender NEWS

Search Gay News Articles
Advanced Search
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2014-07-23
Download Issue
  News Index       Archives   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds   AIDS @ 32
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime

Chicago native takes over as president of CMSA Chicago native takes over as president of CMSA
Michael Erwin, a Chicago native who has participated in gay sports since ...

Browse Gay News Index   Browse Gay News Archives
  Windy City Times    Download PDF Issue

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

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email
Melanie Marshall. PR photo


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 del.icio.us stumble upon digg 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.

SCOTTISH PLAY SCOTT Grand-scale Greek drama 2014-07-30
THEATER REVIEW Me, My Mom & Sharmila 2014-07-30
CRITICS' PICKS 2014-07-30
THEATER REVIEW Hellish Half-Light 2014-07-30
THEATER REVIEW The Marvelous Marvelettes 2014-07-30
THEATER REVIEW The Jungle 2014-07-30
Theater spotlight: Salome 2014-07-30
THEATER REVIEW Who Is Gabi Grayskull? 2014-07-29
Jessie Mueller makes good on Broadway 2014-07-23
Theater Spotlight: LezFest: A One Night Fling 2014-07-23
Othello 2014-07-23
The Beverly Hillbillies: The Musical 2014-07-23
Men Should Weep 2014-07-23
CRITICS' PICKS 2014-07-23
The Qualms 2014-07-23
Paul Oakley Stovall: no 'Qualms' about Steppenwolf show 2014-07-23
Next Theatre facing eviction 2014-07-23
'Sharmila' through Aug. 9 2014-07-23
'An Evening of Magic' to benefit AFC 2014-07-23
Tony Tripoli tag-teams with The Cabaret Project 2014-07-22
Chicago Theatre Week expands in 2015 2014-07-22
xCRITICS' PICKS 2014-07-16
SCOTTISH PLAY SCOTT Bound for Broadway 2014-07-16
THEATER REVIEW Checking Boxes 2014-07-16
THEATER REVIEW A Small Fire 2014-07-16
THEATER REVIEW Dead Man's Cell Phone 2014-07-16
Brigadoon 2014-07-16
Spotlight: Shepherd's Daughter: a Joan of Arc Reimagining 2014-07-16
An Evening of Magic July 26 to support AFC 2014-07-14
21st Annual Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award July 23 2014-07-11
Annapurna 2014-07-09
Windy City Theater Series 2014 tickets on sale 2014-07-09
Get Your Hands Off Me, Chekhov!/ Flip Flop 2014-07-09
CRITICS' PICKS 2014-07-09
A Musical Tribute to the Andrews Sisters 2014-07-09
Spotlight: Alice 2014-07-08
The Broken Gay Folk Revue 2014-07-08
'Billy Elliot' at Drury Lane in 2015 2014-07-08
Queer, Ill, and OK: LGBT show focuses on illness 2014-07-08
Raul Castillo's 'Maiden' voyage 2014-07-08





Copyright © 2014 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.

 

 

 



 

John D'Emilio: Renowned professor, historian retires
 
TransPride beach party draws more than 400
 
PrEP effective with few doses a week; no new dosing strategies
 
'An Evening of Magic' to benefit AFC
 
Meiling Jin on growing up in China, celebrity, LGBT journalism
 
Windy City Times Current DownloadNightspots Current DownloadQueercast Current Download
Windy City Media Group BlogsJoin Our Email List!Donate Now



  News Index       Archives   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds   AIDS @ 32
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime



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      News Videos      Nightspots Videos      Entertainment Videos      Queercast Videos      Comedy Videos     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.