I’ll be the first to admit it, generally I’m not a huge fan of musicals. But when I got wind that Fantasia Barrino was on Broadway again, making an appearance in another musical, I got a bit excited. The musical, After Midnight is a bit different than any I’ve ever seen, a look at Harlem’s nightlife through a contemporary lens while focusing on the Jazz Age. As the title suggests it’s specifically looking at what happens after the midnight hour. Imagine the go to night club in Harlem narrated by actor and singer Dulé Hill, (“Psych” & “The West Wing”) After Midnight looks at cheating men, love and marriage, night time funerals, as well as competition, both friendly and potentially dangerous.
Accompanied by a full orchestra of 17 musicians, the musical features song and dance numbers by a 25 member cast that continue to outshine each other with stunning performances and outfits to compliment the package. After Midnight is produced by Scott Sanders and Jazz legend, Wynston Marsalis. Marsalis provides musical direction as well, even hand picking the musicians dubbed The Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Stars. Another element which brings flavor to the musical is the addition of Langston Hughes’ poetry mixed in for some extra Harlem substance.
The After Midnight musical is directed and choreographed by Warren Carlyle, who has done a phenomenal job putting together the many layers of this project.
Fantasia is a gem on stage and her vocal talents provide quite the stirring in the seats each time she saunters on stage. Performing just four pieces she does feel like more of a special guest and therefore doesn’t take anything away from the other cast members who all put on impressive performances as well.
Dulé is almost surprisingly brilliant in his ability to engage the audience in song and dance. His extensive background in theater should come as no surprise. I can talk endlessly about the cast but there’s not enough time. Adriane Lenox, a Tony Award-winner, does deserve special recognition however for her humorous take on the Blues. Her comic relief feeds the soul at just the right time during the musical.
After Midnight officially launched for opening night on November 3rd and will run at least through March at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre (256 W. 47th Street). In February it will feature special guest star k.d. lang and in March Toni Braxton & Babyface will have a run as well.
Even if you haven’t made it to Broadway this year, make some time to go see this one.
After Midnight musical Images by Matthew Murphy
After Midnight receives a PARL
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