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After Midnight. Brooks Atkinson Theatre (see Broadway). Conceived by Jack Viertel. Music and lyrics by various artists. Directed by Warren Carlyle. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 30mins. No intermission.
After Midnight: in brief
Previously known as City Center's Harlem homage Cotton Club Parade, this new revue celebrates the musical and cultural heritage of jazz, framed as a look back at Duke Ellington in his prime. The 17-member orchestra was selected by jazz great and coproducer Wynton Marsalis; Warren Carlyle (Finian's Rainbow) directs and choreographs.
After Midnight: theater review by David Cote
“Jazz is a heartbeat—its heartbeat is yours,” wrote Langston Hughes in his 1956 essay “Jazz as Communication.” Cardiac organs are pounding like crazy at After Midnight, the raucous, joyous, white-hot revue in which a ridiculously talented array of dancers, singers and ace musicians (handpicked by Wynton Marsalis) are whipping up a hurricane of fun.
Devised by producer Jack Viertel and road-tested at City Center as Cotton Club Parade, the program packs in more than two dozen swinging numbers—many of them classics by Duke Ellington and other legends of the Harlem Renaissance. It’s a jazz phantasmagoria that shifts from head-spinning tap (by the charming trio of Daniel J. Watts, Phillip Attmore and Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards) to silken crooning by MC Dulé Hill and tender standards (“Stormy Weather” and others) by the divinely bruised Fantasia Barrino. “Jazz is a great big sea,” Hughes also wrote, and this is one hell of a swim.—Theater review by David Cote
THE BOTTOM LINE: A jazzy revue has us up and dancing.
Follow David Cote on Twitter: @davidcote