It had to seem like a match made in heaven — as far as musical theatre goes.
The creative minds at Encores! City Center and Jazz at Lincoln Center (two of New York City's finest live arts organizations) collaborating to bring a show to the stage every two years was a stroke of genius. Their inaugural endeavor was 2011's Cotton Club Parade, a musical revue paying homage to the stylings of jazz legends like Duke Ellington juxtaposed with the poetry of laureate Langston Hughes and the famed Harlem hotspot as the backdrop, circa 1930s.
With nine-time Grammy Award winner Wynton Marsalis helming the band and Drama Desk Award nominee Warren Carlyle (A Christmas Story The Musical) choreographing and directing, Cotton Club Parade was a show not to be missed. Six sold-out performances during its limited run led the producers to order seven more for the 2012 season. And those were a smash.
Fast forward to less than a year later and the bones of those earlier productions are given new life on Broadway, starting with a new title — After Midnight — and some other special elements. "American Idol" winner Fantasia Barrino has been cast to bring her vocal magic back to The Great White Way. (The Grammy Award-winning chart-topper made her Broadway debut as Celie in The Color Purple in 2007.) Additionally, acclaimed fashion designer Isabel Toledo has been tapped to recreate the panache and pageantry of the era as the show's costume designer. (The Cuban-born fashionista gained fame for crafting looks for First Lady Michelle Obama.)
"This is really an inspired show that is going to combine old school with new school," producer Scott Sanders revealed. "It's going to have all the sexy elements from great 1930s Harlem clubs put through the prism of 2013 and modern sensibilities of certain artists, certain dancers, certain performers and certain vocalists."
One vocalist in particular is Tony Award winner Adriane Lenox, who has been with the past and present iterations of After Midnight and is elated to return to Broadway. (Though the Memphis native hasn't been on the boards since 2009 — with a short stint in Chicago — she's amassed a steady film career with roles in "The Blind Side," "Lee Daniels' The Butler," "The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete" and "Love Is Strange," which is currently shooting in New York.)
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