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"After Midnight", with the Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Stars, Fantasia, and Dule Hill at Brooks Atkinson Theatre
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"After Midnight", with the Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Stars, Fantasia, and Dule Hill at Brooks Atkinson Theatre

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Scott Sanders Productions, Wynton Marsalis,
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et al.

After Midnight

Conceived by Jack Viertel
Special Guest Star: Fantasia Barrino
Featuring: Dulé Hill
With: Adriane Lenox

Karine Plantadit, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards,
Julius “iGlide” Chisolm, Virgil “Lil’O” Gadson, Jared Grimes

And an ensemble of actors/singers/dancers

Brooks Atkinson Theatre
256 West 47th Street

Music Direction: The Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Stars
Artistic Director: Wynton Marsalis

Kurt Bacher, Art Baron, Adam Birnbaum, Dan Block,
James Burton III, James Chirillo, Andy Farber, Alvester Garnett,
Gregory Gisbert, Wayne Goodman, Mark Gross, Bruce Harris,
Alphonso Horne, Godwin Louis, Jennifer Vincent, James Zollar

Directed and Choreographed by Warren Carlyle
Music Supervisor/Additional Arranger/Conductor: Daryl Waters
Selected Text by Langston Hughes
Scenic Design: John Lee Beatty
Costume Design: Isabelle Toledo
Lighting Design: Howell Binkley
Sound Designer: Peter Hylenski
Hair Design: Charles G. LaPointe
Casting: Laura Stanczyk, CSA
Assoc. Director: Sara Edwards
Music Coordinator: Seymour Red Press
Dance Captain: Justin Prescott
Technical Supervisor: Neil A. Mazzella
Production Stage Manager: Kim Vernace
Advertising & Marketing: Spotco
Press Representative: O&M Co.
Marketing & Press Outreach: Linda J. Stewart
General Management: Bespoke Theatricals

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 12, 2014 Matinee

After Midnight is a show you won’t want to leave. In fact, if I could, I’d do double shows on a Wednesday or Saturday, a form of binge-watching/listening. The music and dance are contagious and uplifting, as the show evokes Duke Ellington’s orchestra at the Cotton Club, in Harlem, circa 1923-1940. This Club has recently been revived, and I look forward to stopping by one night. The original show, on which this production was based, was called “Cotton Club Parade” and appeared at New York City Center. Once again, Wynton Marsalis has brought his Jazz at Lincoln Center artists onstage, with dancing, vocals, and balloons. In this production, this orchestra is called the All-Stars. These musicians, chosen in particular for the show, as well as the standard Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, have been widely reviewed on these pages. Jack Viertel, who conceived this show, produced by many including Mr. Marsalis, stars Fantasia Barrino and Dulé Hill. Grammy-winning Fantasia won “American Idol” and appeared in The Color Purple. Dulé Hill stars in a television show, “Psyche”, and had a role in “West Wing”.

But it was the ensemble of singers and dancers, all in uptown Harlem-at-night finery, that stole the show, along with the vibrant All-Stars. My guest today had actually seen Ellington’s orchestra live, many decades ago, and her favorite song was Ellington’s “Creole Love Call”, sung by Carmen Ruby Floyd. Ms. Floyd’s cognac-infused voice was magical and surreal. My favorite was “Women Be Wise” (Sippie Wallace), sung by perky, witty, and sassy Adriane Lenox. It was a lesson for this Wednesday matinee filled with ladies, and they loved it. Fantasia brought down the house with “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” (Fields/McHugh), “Stormy Weather” (Koehler/Arlen), and “On the Sunny Side of the Street” (Fields/McHugh). Her costumes and hair were exquisite, and her voice divine. Dulé opened the show with poetic, historical allusions, followed later in “I’ve Got the World On a String” (Koehler/Arlen), with lots of red balloons, and in “Ain’t It De Truth” (Harburg/Arlen). Adriane Lenox also sang a rousing “Go Back Where You Stayed Last Night” (Easton/Waters) to a mystery man, a hugely riotous song. Karine Plantadit went wild in “Black and Tan Fantasy” (Ellington/Miley), while Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards was featured with flourish in “The Skrontch” (Ellington, Nemo, Mills).

And, then there’s more and more dancing! As mentioned above, this is a show to see multiple times, to absorb it all and re-visit favorite moments, or all of them. Julius “iGlide” Chisolm seemed to have no bones, just flesh and muscles, as he wound himself in musical flow about the stage, wowing the crowd, with Virgil “Lil O’” Gadson, in “Hottentot Tot” (Fields/McHugh). Jared Grimes, a renowned tap artist, brought the house down for the umpteenth time in Tap Mathematician/”It Don’t Mean a Thing” (Ellington), with rippling legs and feet that seemed like a second orchestra. A sextet of synchronized male dancers in top hats and tuxes, that deserve their own show (every musician, dancer, singer here deserves his/her own show) were featured in “Peckin” (James/Pollack), moving like a human train, at times evoking the Rockettes’ wooden soldiers. There was blues, jazz, comedy, athletics, tap, swing, song, and don’t forget 17 stupendous musicians, led by Daryl Waters. When you see the show, be sure to save the musician list, as these men appear in the Clubs and at Jazz at Lincoln Center, around and about town.

John Lee Beatty’s scenery, mostly minimalist, was outstanding. The orchestra was seated rear stage, often in full view, and the choreography took up most stage space. Isabel Toledo created the most elegant and sophisticated costumes I’ve seen this season, including the requisite white tie and tails, and Peter Hylenski’s sound design made each note clear and crisp, or deep and poignant, depending on the mood. Kudos to all.

Adriane Lenox in
Broadway's "After Midnight"
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

Dule Hill in
Broadway's "After Midnight"
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

Fantasia in
Broadway's "After Midnight"
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

The Cast of Broadway's "After Midnight"
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at