And while the play, which starred actor Dulé Hill and “American Idol” winner Fantasia Barrino, received accolades rom critics, it’s looking like it will leave the Great White Way under less than stellar circumstances.
Despite singers Natalie Cole and Gladys Knight joining the production this summer after the departure of LaBelle, “After Midnight” producer Scott Sanders confirmed on June 14 that the Tony-nominated show would close. Speaking with the New York Times, Sanders said he wanted the show to go dark for the week between LaBelle’s departure on Monday and Knight’s arrival on July 8.
However, with negotiations not panning out with theatrical unions and the need to the need to save money and avoid poor ticket sales, Sanders is ultimately closing “After Midnight” early.
The news is a hard pill for LaBelle to swallow. So much so that the legendary entertainer is seeking devine intervention to help save the play. LaBelle revealed to ABC News Radio that she has “angels working, people that I hope will come to the play and put some money up to keep it alive.”
“This play is so wonderful, so my heart is broken for the cast. Totally. And that Gladys Knight won’t get a chance or Natalie Cole won’t get a chance to experience this wonderful play,” said LaBelle, who is “praying that somebody, a big angel, will come and say, ‘Here’s enough money to keep it going.’”.
Produced by Wynton Marsalis, “After Midnight” celebrates Duke Ellington’s years at Harlem’s Cotton Club nightclub in the 1930’s. In addition to Hill and Barrino, the show starred k.d. lang, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Toni Braxton and Vanessa L. Williams.
Knowing how important the time period covered in the play is for music, LaBelle stated that she would go the extra mile to save “After Midnight” by collecting money with buckets after the show as well as auction off a kiss for $5,000 to keep the production going herself.
“After Midnight” was capitalized at about $7 million and will close at a financial loss. However, investors may recoup if a national tour of the show proves successful. Discussions regarding the outing are currently being held.
As it stands now, no new investors have come forward to help save “After Midnight,” according to reports. Production representatives for the show have been silent regarding the possibility of it running through the summer.