Toni Braxton and Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds Join Roster of Special Guests for Broadway's After Midnight

By Michael Gioia
25 Sep 2013

Toni Braxton
Toni Braxton

Grammy Award-winning artists Toni Braxton and Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds have joined the roster of special guest star vocalists for the new Broadway musical After Midnight — which will begin performances Oct. 18 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

Braxton and Edmonds will join the company March 18-30, 2014, following Grammy Award-winning artist k.d. lang's engagement, which is scheduled for Feb. 11-March 9, 2014. 

As previously announced, Grammy Award winner Fantasia Barrino (The Color Purple, "American Idol") will open the show and perform through Feb. 9, 2014. The new musical reintroduces the Cotton Club's tradition of welcoming the stars of today in limited engagements throughout its run.

Braxton and Edmonds recently teamed up for their first album of duets, "Love, Marriage & Divorce," which will arrive in stores Dec. 3 on Motown Records. "Hurt You" has hit Top 10 on the Billboard charts. The duo first collaborated on a duet for Braxton's 1992 debut "Give U My Heart," which was co-written and co-produced by "Babyface."



Braxton has been seen on Broadway in Disney's Beauty and the Beast and Aida and on screen in the Lifetime movie "Twist of Faith." Edmonds is a ten-time Grammy Award-winning recording artist. 

Tickets for Braxton and Edmonds' engagement will go on sale Nov. 4.

Tony Award winner Adriane Lenox will reprise her performance in the Broadway engagement of After Midnight, which will also feature Tony Award nominees Desmond Richardson and Karine Plantadit, as well as Grammy Award nominee Everett Bradley.

Emmy Award-nominated actor Dulé Hill (Stick Fly, The Tap Dance Kid, "The West Wing," "Psych") will serve as "The Host" of the evening, leading the audience through the heat and glamour of the Harlem Renaissance using the words of Langston Hughes. Opening night of After Midnight is set for Nov. 3.

Lenox, who appeared in the revue at New York City Center, when it was titled Cotton Club Parade, returns to the production in an eclectic cast of performers that also includes Julius "iGlide" Chisolm from the dance crew RemoteKontrol (he'll reimagine Harlem's popular 1920's "snakehips" dance); hip hop star Virgil J. Gadson; Tony Award-nominated dancers Plantadit (Movin' Out, Come Fly Away) and Richardson (Fosse, Movin' Out); tap dancers Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards and Jared Grimes; and vocalists Everett Bradley, Cedric Neal, T. Oliver Reid, Monroe Kent, Carmen Ruby Floyd, Rosena M. Hill Jackson and Bryonha Marie Parham.

Dancers for the evening will include Marija Abney, Phillip Attmore, Christopher Broughton, Taeler Elyse Cyrus, C.K. Edwards, Bahiyah Hibah, Erin Moore, Justin Prescott, Monique Smith, Daniel Watts, Danielle Herbert and David Jennings.

Director-choreographer Warren Carlyle (Chaplin, Follies) and fashion duo Isabel and Ruben Toledo, who will design costumes, will join The Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Stars and All-Stars artistic director, nine-time Grammy Award and Pulitzer Prize winner Wynton Marsalis — who chose the big band of 17 musicians — to create the atmosphere of the famed Harlem nightclub in the 1920s and 1930s.

Here's how the production is billed: "Jazz is a state of mind. It's a structure for innovation, forward momentum and freedom. The evocative new musical After Midnight will take the sexy, smoky glamour of the original Jazz Age and catapult it into a whole new era of heart-pounding, mind-blowing entertainment for modern Broadway audiences. Refracted through a contemporary lens, After Midnight will celebrate Duke Ellington's years at the Cotton Club using his original arrangements and performed by a world-class big band of 17 musicians hand-picked by living jazz legend, Wynton Marsalis. The timeless tunes set against a narrative of Langston Hughes poetry will provide an authentic backdrop for an array of cutting-edge performances by 25 sensational vocalists and dancers, including special guest stars, whose interpretations will shatter everything you think you know about music, nightlife and Broadway. Welcome to the new Jazz Age."

After Midnight will feature pieces by jazz composers of the time, including Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields ("I Can't Give You Anything But Love" and "Digga Digga Doo"), Harold Arlen ("Stormy Weather," "I've Got the World on a String," "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea") and Duke Ellington ("Rockin' in Rhythm," "Cotton Club Stomp," "Black and Tan Fantasy" and "Creole Love Call").

"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," said Marsalis in a previous statement. "Come on down, to get down and be lifted up."

After Midnight will mark the Broadway debut of fashion designer Isabel Toledo (costumes), who is known for creating Michelle Obama's first inauguration day dress. Ruben is an award-winning artist who renders all of Isabel's designs and is the author of "Style Dictionary."

"Cues from the past inspire us to create something new and singular," said Isabel Toledo in a statement. "The opportunity to delve into the theatre world via the sultry innovative nightlife scene of the jazz age was too tantalizing too pass up. Jazz is deeply entrenched in my creative process, it all starts with rhythm."

Other members of the creative team include Peter Hylenski (sound) and Tony Award winners John Lee Beatty (set design) and Howell Binkley (lighting design).

After Midnight is produced by Scott Sanders Productions, and Wynton Marsalis, in association with Marks-Moore-Turnbull Group; Stephen and Ruth Hendel; Tom Kirdahy.

Tickets for After Midnight can be purchased at Telecharge.com.

For more information, visit AfterMidnightBroadway.com.