NEW YORK – New York’s famed Cotton Club may have closed over a half century ago, but its reputation as a showcase for black talent remains strong. The new Broadway musical “After Midnight” is an exuberant tribute to the Black dance and music performers who made the club legendary.
Conceived by a partnership between City Center and Lincoln Center Jazz, it ran off-Broadway as the Cotton Club revue. Lincoln Center’s Wynton Marsalis recreated the musical era with one of Broadway’s greatest ever-musical ensembles, the Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Stars, director Warren Carlyle brought the stellar choreography as well. Cuban designer Isabel Toledo was at the helm of the dazzling costumes.
“After Midnight” places “Psych” actor Dule Hill on the stage as the evening’s host. During an hour and half show, tap dancers, singers and musicians grace the stage, putting on an array of fantastic performances. Do the Jazz At Lincoln Center All-Stars who take center stage as modern stand-ins for the Cotton Club musicians deserve all their accolades for bringing the jazz music of the 30’s and 40’s back to glorious life? They sure do. Can a man dance on his hands? Yes, he can. Can a woman jump out of a casket to celebrate her life before being carried off to the grave? Yes, she can. Can singers you may have never heard of unless you’re a theater groupie have you slapping your knees and clapping your hands? Yes, it all happens on the “After Midnight” stage.
The show is set up as though it were truly a night at the Cotton Club – instead of a night at the theater, you are transported back in time to what was obviously thoroughly exciting evenings at the Harlem institution – minus the smoky atmosphere typical of the times. And the gangsters, although even at the swanky Brooks Atkinson theater, you can’t always tell if the nice older guy sitting next to you was a Prohibition-era kingpin reliving his past. But the show is all entertainment – don’t expect much in the way of plot or any social consciousness.
In it’s prime, from 1923-1940, the Cotton Club showcased the elite Black entertainers of the time, but also New York’s bigotry. The Cotton Club was a whites-only club, so its entertainers couldn’t even bring their friends or family. The club also featured a Sunday night “Celebrity Night” where a singer, comedian or leading actor or actress of the day had a featured spot. “After Midnight” keeps this tradition going.
It begins its “celebrity” nights with singer Fantasia, the first featured guest who in in the cast until February 9 when pop singer K.D. Lang will replace her. Then, Toni Braxton and Babyface join the cast from March 18-30. “After Midnight” is not Fantasia’s Broadway debut; the “American Idol” winner also starred as Celie in “The Color Purple.” In this production, she sings several songs, including a poignant version of “Stormy Weather” as well as a rollicking version of the Cab Calloway chestnut, “Zaz Zuh Zaz.”
Those who dislike the scratchier side to Fantasia’s voice will be amazed by her transformation into a jazz singer under the direction of Marsalis. He has toned down her R&B theatrics and brought out the tonal quality that makes her voice so uniquely beautiful. It’s a star turn for the once embattled singer and she makes the best of it.
Singer Adriane Lenox does a ribald turn in “Women Be Wise” and tap dancing is all but revived by the talents of folks like Christopher Broughton and Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards. But it’s the varied and talented cast in its totality that make this Broadway show one you can’t miss. The Cotton Club lives again… and it’s wonderful.
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
1 of 30
2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
2 of 30
3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
3 of 30
4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
4 of 30
5. Jus haaaanngin out
5 of 30
6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
6 of 30
7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
7 of 30
8. new new
8 of 30
9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
9 of 30
10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
10 of 30
11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
11 of 30
12 of 30
13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
13 of 30
14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
14 of 30
15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
15 of 30
16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
16 of 30
17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
17 of 30
18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
18 of 30
19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
19 of 30
20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
20 of 30
21 of 30
22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
22 of 30
23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
23 of 30
24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
24 of 30
25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
25 of 30
26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
26 of 30
27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
27 of 30
28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
28 of 30
29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
29 of 30
30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
30 of 30