PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Oct. Nov. 2-8: After Midnight Earns Raves, Midsummer Opens at TFANA and Two Shows Announce Closings

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08 Nov 2013

Fantasia
Fantasia
Joseph Marzullo/WENN

After Midnight, the jazz revue which celebrates Duke Ellington's years at the famed Harlem nightclub the Cotton Club — using his original arrangements and performed by a world-class big band of 17 musicians hand-picked by vaunted jazzman Wynton Marsalis, and set against a narrative of Langston Hughes poetry — opened this week at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. The production was "conceived" by Jack Viertel  and played two previous engagements at New York City Center.

The show entered the 2013-14 Broadway sweepstakes with little fanfare, but it awoke Nov. 4 to find a set a reviews that turned it into a commercial contender.

The New York Times stated that "the focus remains squarely on music and its interpretation, by those amazing musicians, under the snappy baton of the conductor Daryl Waters, and the performers who sing, slide, scat, cartwheel and generally raise a ruckus in front of them." AP found the "candy sampler of some two dozen musical numbers that showcase dance, jazz or singing" to leave one "feeling lighter than air."

Hollywood Reporter enthused, "The paramount requirement for any revue celebrating the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and '30s is stated right there in the Duke Ellington standard, 'It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing).' And After Midnight has it in abundance… Ninety minutes of exuberantly entertaining song and dance, this is a show that renders it impossible to keep your toes from tapping." New York magazine called it "an unmitigated pleasure."

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Off-Broadway, Theatre for a New Audience opened a revival of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream directed by Julie Taymor. The occasion would have been dramatic enough if only for being the inaugural production in TFANA's new Brooklyn home, but it also served as Taymor's first major New York directing credit since the public-relations spectacle that was Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark.



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