For years the songs of top singers and groups have been incorporated into Broadway musicals. Examples are Mamma Mia! which features the music of the Swedish group, ABBA, and Moving Out, which features the music of Billy Joel. Now the incomparable Earth, Wind & Fire, the African-American group that revolutionized the sound of popular music in the 1970s, and which has been thrilling audiences since, is having the same honor bestowed upon it. Beginning with previews on April 18 and an opening on April 30, the songs of Earth, Wind & Fire will be heard at Broadway’s Hilton Theatre, on West 42nd Street, in a new musical called Hot Feet.
This musical is conceived, directed and choreographed by Maurice Hines, star of stage, screen and television and a member of the famous act Hines, Hines & Dad. It will feature such Earth, Wind & Fire hits as “After the Love Is Gone,” “Boogie Wonderland,” “Shining Star,” and “September,” along with six new songs composed by the group’s founder, Maurice White. Just thinking about the lineup is enough to give fans a warm, nostalgic feeling in anticipation of a good time.
The book for the musical was written by Jamaican-born hip-hop novelist and MTV Books author Heru Ptah. Hot Feet is presented by TransAmerica and produced by Rudy Durand in association with Kalimba Entertainment. The storyline is an adaptation of The Red Shoes, a fairy tale by the 19th century Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. The play itself is a story of believing in one’s dreams and ambitions and of pursuing those dreams and ambitions with self-sacrifice and discipline. It explores the underbelly of the back stages of Broadway, with their dreamers and dream makers.
The story is told through the character of a beautiful young talented dancer, Kalimba, whose life quest is to dance on Broadway. Her ambitious quest takes the audience through her fears, loves, disappointments and the numerous obstacles she faces. Kalimba is cajoled into dancing in a pair of magical red shoes, whereupon they take control of her fate. In thus succumbing to the temptations of success, the price of her ambition is revealed.
Vivian Nixon, daughter of Debbie Allen and a seasoned dancer who recently toured with the Alvin Ailey II dance company, plays Kalimba in the starring role. She is joined by an all-star cast that includes Tony Award winner Keith David, who also is familiar to movie and television audiences (Crash, Barbershop). David’s last musical on Broadway was Jelly’s Last Jam. He received a Tony for his starring role in the drama by the late August Wilson, Seven Guitars. Multitalented, he is a singer with a nightclub act, and he is often used for voice-over work.
Also in the cast is Broadway heavy hitter and Tony Award winner Ann Duquesnay, who received her Tony for George C. Wolfe’s Bring in da Noise/Bring in da Funk. Other cast members are Wynona Smith (Broadway: Sophisticated Ladies. Screen: Houseguest, What’s Love Got to Do With It?), Michael Balderrama (Movin’ Out, Urban Cowboy, Saturday Night Fever), Allen Hidalgo and Sarah Livingston.
The design team includes James Noone (sets); Paul Tazewell (costumes); Clifton Taylor (lights); and Acme Sound Partners (sound).
The mounting of a production such as this, with such top names both behind the scenes and in a cast that includes 19 African-Americans, not to mention the classic soul songs of Earth, Wind & Fire, is truly exciting news.
Where: Hilton Theatre Broadway, 213 West 42nd Street, N.Y.C.
When: Previews begin April 18. Opening night is April 30
Tickets: Available at Ticketmaster, 212-307-4100 or 800-755-4000
Web site: www.hotfeetthemusical.com