Jack Viertel-Conceived Cotton Club Parade, Entitled After Midnight, Sets Dates at Broadway's Brooks Atkinson
By Michael Gioia
Lead producer Scott Sanders Productions announced June 24 that After Midnight — the new production of Cotton Club Parade that was conceived by Tony Award winner Jack Viertel and played two engagements at New York City Center — will begin performances on Broadway Oct. 18 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.
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.
Opening night of After Midnight is set for Nov. 3. Group tickets are now available.
Casting and musicians will be announced at a later date. The New York Times is reporting that "American Idol" winner Fantasia Barrino is attached to star.
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 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).
Cotton Club Parade, the Encores! Special Event was seen at the famed New York venue Nov. 18-22, 2011, and again Nov. 14-18, 2012.
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 groups of 12 or more can be purchased by calling (212) 239-6262 or (800) 432-7780.
For more information, visit JALC.org.
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