Fantasia Barrino Leaves Broadway's Cotton Club; Patti LaBelle in the Wings at After Midnight
By Michael Gioia
Grammy winner Fantasia Barrino (The Color Purple, "American Idol"), who opened After Midnight Nov. 3, 2013, at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, plays her final performance in the Tony Award-nominated musical revue June 8.
Barrino returned to the musical May 13 for a second engagement. Read the Playbill.com Brief Encounter with Barrino, who talks about her musical inspirations.
Following Barrino, After Midnight will welcome Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight and Natalie Cole (in her Broadway debut) as guest-star vocalists. LaBelle will play June 10-29 with Knight performing July 8-Aug. 3 and Cole performing Aug. 5-31 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.
Conceived by Jack Viertel and directed and choreographed by 2014 Tony nominee Warren Carlyle, After Midnight began previews Oct. 18, 2013, and opened to critical praise Nov. 3, 2013.
The production was Tony-nominated for Best Musical, Best Direction of a Musical (Carlyle), Best Choreography (Carlyle), Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical (Adriane Lenox), Best Costume Design of a Musical (Isabel Toledo), Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Howell Binkley) and Best Sound Design of a Musical (Peter Hylenski).
After Midnight received an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Choreographer (Carlyle), Drama Desks for Outstanding Revue and Outstanding Choreography (Carlyle) and Astaire Awards for Outstanding Choreographer of a Broadway Show (Carlyle), Outstanding Female Dancer in a Broadway Show (Karine Plantadit), Outstanding Female Dancer in a Broadway Show (Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards) and Outstanding Male Dancer in a Broadway Show (Jared Grimes).
After Midnight, according to press notes, "takes the sexy, smoky glamour of the original Jazz Age and catapults it into a whole new era of heart-pounding, mind-blowing entertainment for modern Broadway audiences. Refracted through a contemporary lens, After Midnight celebrates 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 provide an authentic backdrop for an array of cutting-edge performances by 25 sensational vocalists and dancers, including special guest stars, whose interpretations shatter everything you think you know about music, nightlife and Broadway."
The musical reintroduces the Cotton Club tradition of rotating celebrity guest stars and has featured Williams (April 1-May 11), Barrino (Oct. 18, 2013-Feb. 9), four-time Grammy Award winner k.d. lang (Feb. 11-March 9) and Grammy Award winners Toni Braxton and Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds (March 17-30).
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