The new broadway musical, “After Midnight”, currently starring Fantasia, Dule Hill and Adriane Lenox is less musical, and more of a glimpse into the Harlem legendary club known as the Cotton Club. The only thing missing from this exhilarating 90-minute production is a martini in hand, as the audience feels transported into what it may have felt like behind the doors during the Prohibition Era, led by the music of the one and only, Duke Ellington. The production couldn’t feel more relevant with the wave of speakeasy bars having a renaissance, and the multitude of various dance styles being represented on television, “After Midnight” pays homage to a classic heyday, and reminds us to embrace the spirit of life.
There is no formal storyline to “After Midnight”, and quite frankly that’s part of it’s success as the audience is swept away to a time period of laughs, dance, blues and romance. Beautifully directed and choreographed by Warren Carlyle, the Lincoln Jazz All Stars are prominently featured on a sliding platform that glides upstage and downstage making them an equal component to this incredibly talented cast. Guest Star, Fantasia, is breathless as she weaves in and out of the show singing classic tunes as “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love”and the exquisite, “Stormy Weather”. She turns it out in the Cab Calloway & Harry White number, “Zaz Zuh Zaz”, as well as “On the Sunny Side of the Street”.
Adriane Lenox, who is marvelous in both of her memorable numbers, told me that she’s been with the show since the beginning when it was touring
and called “The Cotton Club”. Her show stopping early number, “Women Be Wise”, will have both women and men in the audience rising from their seats wanting more from Lennox.
I wasn’t made aware in my initial glimpse of the show, during a press preview that Dule Hill would be more than the narrator who helps move “After Midnight” from scene to scene, reciting the poetry of Langston Hughes. After seeing the entirety of the production, I look forward to seeing more from the actor, as the man not only commands and leads this show, as a sort of ring leader, but he can also belt it out beautifully, and dance up a storm with the best of the cast.
Number after number features some of the most skilled, agile and fluid dancers I’ve ever seen on stage. I couldn’t get enough of Virgil “Lil’ O” Gadson, who is a master at new stylings of dance, while fusing them with the classic moves of the Cotton Club era. His number with fellow standout dancer, Julius “iGlide” Chisolm is nothing short of brilliant, and his facial expressions are on a par with his mesmerizing dance skills.
There are too many numbers in “After Midnight” to mention here, but you’ll love the Duke Ellington number, “The Skrontch” which features another standout performer in the show, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards. Her singing, dancing and infectious smile bring down the house.
Watch the video below with some of the key players from, “After Midnight”. You can visit, AfterMidnightBroadway.com for tickets and information.