"After Midnight" Takes You Back To Jazz Era And Cotton Club Glory Days
“After Midnight,” a musical revue, would make one envious of those patrons who held front row seats in the original Cotton Club of the 1920s. “After Midnight” takes the audience back to the Jazz Age at the height of the Harlem Renaissance under the superb direction and choreography of Warren Carlyle.
“After Midnight” is a must-see show because Carlyle’s choreography breathes fresh air into an all too familiar Harlem Jazz-Age theme. Watching “After Midnight” makes the audience believe one is actually witnessing the kind of talent that would have graced the stages at places like the Cotton Club. The regal 88 year-old Brooks Atkinson Theatre provided a fitting venue.
The tap duo of Daniel & Phillip ingeniously intertwine tap dance with break-dancing to amazing result. And the tap dance diva Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards steals the show in the song “Raisin’ the Rent.” Her dread-locks bound tightly and her feet dance lightly with a cool sophistication worthy of a Fred Astaire movie. Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards roused memories of Ginger Rogers as she danced with a riveting mix of athleticism and artistry.
The hour delay due to basement flooding from a burst pipe in sub-zero weather gave the Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Stars a chance to give a delightful impromptu concert of jazz standards height-lighted with a bass solo by Jennifer Vincent. The delay may have frayed the nerves of American Idol star Fantasia Barrino.
Fantasia first looked unsure standing on-stage alone in a lavender gown, shoulders bare, singing “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.” But then “Stormy Weather” created a bond between Fantasia and an audience familiar with her past travails. As she grew comfortable in her starring role, Fantasia’s voice strengthened and she visibly enjoyed belting out a “Sunny Side of the Street.”
Although Dule’ Hill, of East Brunswick, New Jersey, was absent, "After Midnight" was still a success. As you know Mr. Hill stars in the USA Network comedy Psych and made a name for himself in NBC’s West Wing. Do not look for the hardships of Harlem life, Red Summer, or Jim Crow prejudice in this production. However, "After Midnight" is worth the ticket to see the exceptional dancing and singing talent onstage under the direction of Warren Carlyle. (Brooks Atkinson Theatre 256 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036)
Gloria J. Browne-Marshall is a produced playwright of several plays, author of the book "Race, Law, and American Society: 1607 to Present," and a journalist covering legal issues.