The Jazz Age is Revived in After Midnight

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fantasia in Broadway's 'After Midnight.' Fantasia in Broadway's 'After Midnight.' (Matthew Murphy)

An iconic moment in American history is the subject of a new Broadway revue at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. After Midnight purports to take its audience to a Jazz Age Harlem nightclub.

It was a time and place in which America’s new music, jazz, was burgeoning. Conceived by Jack Viertel, and directed and choreographed by Warren Carlyle, this new show pays homage to the Cotton Club and other Harlem hotpots that had their heyday in the 1920s and 1930s. The show features more than 25 songs from the era, with an emphasis on both compositions and arrangements by Duke Ellington.

The production features the Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Stars, "American Idol" winner Fantasia Barrino in the role of Special Guest Star, and actor Dulé Hill as The Host. The producers plan to keep this show around, too. They’ve booked pop singer K.D. Lang to replace Barrino this coming February, and a double bill of R&B singers Babyface and Toni Braxton to follow Lang in mid-March.

With a cast of more than 40, including the band, this is a high-wattage production. New York Times theater critic Charles Isherwood lets us know if all that 20th century juice can light up Broadway almost 90 years later.

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