dule hill - after midnight

Dule Hill (center) and the eclectic cast of “After Midnight” (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

*The brightest new bulbs on Broadway radiate from the Brooks Atkinson Theatre (256 West 47th Street, NYC) where the bubbly After Midnight opened Sunday, November 3, 2013 to laudable reviews followed by a fabulous after-party at the Copacabana nightclub.  Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis told you what you could expect from the very start.

“In the Swing Era, jazz dominated the music charts for a reason: it’s sophisticated yet down-home, and people can get down for a profoundly good time while still being uplifted.  Those things have never left our music, and Broadway is the perfect place to showcase to the world the contemporary relevance of swing.  Come on down, to get down and be lifted up.”  And that’s just what happens after seeing After Midnight!

The spectacular extravaganza oozes glitz, glamour, grit and gyrations that will have you running home to see if your mojo could make the same moves.  This erotic version of Cotton Club Parade, conceived by Jack Viertel, which played two smash-hit, sold-out engagements at City Center), is contagious and theatergoers are rushing to get their dose of energy.  Since its swanky opening, the play has been doing blockbuster business.

Led by nine-time Grammy Award and Pulitzer Prize winner Wynton Marsalis and The Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Stars — an orchestra of 17 world-class musicians hand-picked by Marsalis — perform a vast repertoire of Duke Ellington’s original arrangements.

Steeped in the tradition of The Duke Ellington Orchestra, The Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Stars include 17 world-class soloists, ensemble players and composers ranging in age from 25 to 57. Individually, they have performed alongside music’s greatest artists of past and present including Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, BB King, Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin, Alicia Keys, Jay-Z and the legendary Ellington, himself. All career jazz artists, many have composed for television, feature films and fine arts and lead award-winning orchestras of their own, performing at prestigious International Jazz Festivals in Japan, London, Germany, Canada, Italy, and beyond.

jazz at lincoln center

The Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Stars make Broadway debut in “After Midnight” (Photo courtesy JALC)

The Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Stars includes Mark Gross, Godwin Louis, Daniel Block, Andrew Farber and Kurt Bacher on woodwinds; Gregory Gisbert, Bruce Harris, Alfonso Horne and James Zollar on trumpets; Wayne Goodman, Arthur Baron and James Burton III on trombones; Adam Birnbaum on piano; James Chirillo on guitar; Jennifer Vincent on bass; and Alvester Garnett on drums.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Stars will celebrate jazz’s large-ensemble tradition in a way never-before-heard on Broadway as they perform a vast repertoire of Duke Ellington’s original arrangements. After Midnight will explode with masterpieces by the greatest jazz composers of the time, including Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields (“I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” and “Digga Digga Doo”), a young Harold Arlen (“Stormy Weather,” “I’ve Got the World on a String,” “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,”), and of course, the legendary Duke Ellington (“Rockin’ in Rhythm,” “Cotton Club Stomp,” “Black and Tan Fantasy,” and “Creole Love Call”).

The show brings back to life the extravagant shows of the iconic Harlem nightclub that has already garnered the attention of the social media generation who are nightly filling seats and causing phenomenal pandemonium on Broadway as they dance in their seats and wait after the performance to get an up close and personal look at the cast.

After Midnight stars Grammy Award winner Fantasia Barrino (The Color Purple, “American Idol”) is the musical’s first special guest star vocalist and performs through February 9, 2014 followed by Grammy Winner k.d. lang (February 11-March 9, 2014) and Grammy Award-winning artists Toni Braxton and Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds March 18-30, 2014).

Fantastic Fantasia brought her star power and high octave voice to timeless songs of Duke Ellington, Harold Arlen, Cab Calloway and their contemporaries and nails it!  The American Idol alum is joined by 25 amazing vocalists and dancers who will leave you breathless.

Emmy Award nominee Dulé Hill (Stick Fly, The Tap Dance Kid, “The West Wing,” “Psych”) whose swagger is titillating serves as host of the show and Tony Award winner Adriane Lenox (who knocks it out of the park with two stunning numbers) reprises her critically acclaimed role as the blues singer with a sense of humor, headline the revue with Julius “iGlide” Chisolm from the renowned dance crew RemoteKontrol, reimagining Harlem’s popular 1920’s “snakehips” dance; hip hop star Virgil “Lil ‘O” Gadson; Tony Award-nominated modern dancer Karine Plantadit; Michael Jackson’s tap coach Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards and tap-dancing choreographer Jared Grimes in stunning tap routines.

The eclectic cast also includes a male quartet comprised of Grammy Award-nominee and member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band Everett Bradley, Cedric Neal, T. Oliver Reid and Monroe Kent III; a female trio of Broadway vets including Carmen Ruby Floyd, Rosena M. Hill Jackson and Bryonha Marie Parham; and accomplished dancers Marija Abney, Phillip Attmore, Christopher Broughton, Taeler Elyse Cyrus, C.K. Edwards, Danielle Herbert, Bahiyah Hibah, David Jennings, Erin N. Moore, Justin Prescott, Tony Award nominee Desmond Richardson, Allysa Shorte, Monique Smith and Daniel J. Watts.

The timeless tunes juxtaposed against a narrative of Langston Hughes poetry provides the perfect setting for some of the best styled song and dance numbers on Broadway that will have you jumping out of your seat.  When you leave the theater, you’re exhausted but you leave with glorious lessons learned about a historical place in time.

Director/choreographer Warren Carlyle and superstar fashion duo Isabel & Ruben Toledo head up an enviable design team consisting of Peter Hylenski (sound), Tony Award-winners John Lee Beatty (set design) and Howell Binkley (lighting design), and Daryl Waters (music supervisor, additional arranger/conductor).   Their joint collaboration makes the stage dance!

After Midnight explodes with masterpieces by the greatest jazz composers of the time, including Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields (“I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” and “Digga Digga Doo”), a young Harold Arlen (“Stormy Weather,” “I’ve Got the World on a String,” “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,”), and of course, the legendary Duke Ellington (“Rockin’ in Rhythm,” “Cotton Club Stomp,” “Black and Tan Fantasy,” and “Creole Love Call”) and Cab Calloway (“Zaz Zuh Zaz”).

After Midnight is produced by Scott Sanders Productions (lead producer), Wynton Marsalis, Roy Furman, Candy Spelling, Starry Night Entertainment, Hal Newman, Allan S. Gordon/Adam S. Gordon, James L. Nederlander, Robert K. Kraft, Catherine & Fred Adler, Robert Appel, Jeffrey Bolton, Scott M. Delman, James Fantaci, Ted Liebowitz, Stephanie P. McClelland, Sandy Black and Carol Fineman in association with Marks-Moore-Turnbull Group, Stephen & Ruth Hendel and Tom Kirdahy.

New York based award-winning journalist Audrey J. Bernard covers entertainment, fashion & beauty, film, lifestyles and travel for the Electronic Urban Report and other outlets.  Contact her via: [email protected]

audrey bernard

Audrey J. Bernard