*Fantasia Barrino, last seen on Broadway in The Color Purple, has been announced as the first headliner of Broadway’s After Midnight — the new production of Cotton Club Parade that was conceived by Tony Award winner Jack Viertel.
In After Midnight, producers will reintroduce the Cotton Club tradition of “Celebrity Nights” by presenting stars of today in limited engagement appearances throughout the Broadway musical’s run. The show begins performances Oct. 18 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. Barrino will headline through Feb. 9, 2014.
Wynton Marsalis is handling the music. The Jazz at Lincoln Center orchestra leader chose a big band of 17 musicians to create the atmosphere of the famed Harlem nightclub in the 1920s and 1930s.
The show will feature pieces by jazz composers of the time, including Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields (“I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” and “Digga Digga Doo”), Harold Arlen (“Stormy Weather,” “I’ve Got the World on a String,” “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea”) and Duke Ellington (“Rockin’ in Rhythm,” “Cotton Club Stomp,” “Black and Tan Fantasy” and “Creole Love Call”).
Director-choreographer Warren Carlyle (Chaplin, Follies) and fashion duo Isabel and Ruben Toledo will design costumes. Isabel Toledo is known for creating Michelle Obama’s first inauguration day dress. Ruben is an award-winning artist who renders all of Isabel’s designs and is the author of “Style Dictionary.”
Opening night of After Midnight is set for Nov. 3. Tickets will go on sale to the general public July 22. Complete casting and musicians will be announced at a later date.
Here’s how the production is billed: “Jazz is a state of mind. It’s a structure for innovation, forward momentum and freedom. The evocative new musical After Midnight will take the sexy, smoky glamour of the original Jazz Age and catapult it into a whole new era of heart-pounding, mind-blowing entertainment for modern Broadway audiences. Refracted through a contemporary lens, After Midnight will celebrate Duke Ellington’s years at the Cotton Club using his original arrangements and performed by a world-class big band of 17 musicians hand-picked by living jazz legend, Wynton Marsalis. The timeless tunes set against a narrative of Langston Hughes poetry will provide an authentic backdrop for an array of cutting-edge performances by 25 sensational vocalists and dancers, including special guest stars, whose interpretations will shatter everything you think you know about music, nightlife and Broadway. Welcome to the new Jazz Age.”
Tickets for groups of 12 or more can be purchased now by calling (212) 239-6262 or (800) 432-7780.