THE BLOG
11/05/2013 03:33 pm ET

After Midnight: Resurrecting Harlem in its Heyday

Old Harlem is celebrated in Harlem, and on Broadway in After Midnight. Last weekend, a ribbon cutting at Minton's, Richard Parson's supper club, marks the return of a legendary Harlem jazz joint, where large photos of Duke and Dizzy, Ella and Billie grace a renovated dining room and all eyes lead to a small back room stage ready for the downbeat. That spirit travels downtown, to a show featuring the big sound, the moves, the silver and white elegance of a bygone era. "It's gonna be good," Wynton Marsalis grinned confidently as Hugh Jackman with Deborra Lee Furness, Mary Louise Parker, Barbara Walters, and many others filed into the at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre for opening night of After Midnight, a revue evoking The Cotton Club of the 1920's.

Under Wynton Marsalis' direction The Jazz at Lincoln Center All Stars big band dominates the stage, world class musicians, with a cast of dancers and vocalists, precise and excellent in their interpretations of familiar Tin Pan Alley tunes from Harold Arlen and Dorothy Fields: "Stormy Weather," "On the Sunny Side of the Street," "Diga Diga Doo." Adriane Lenox is sassy on Sippie Wallace's "Women Be Wise (Don't Advertise Your Man)." The fantastic Fantasia Barrino headlines, and SHE CAN SING, yeah, scatting like Ella on "I Can't Give You Anything But Love,": she's joined by a cast that includes Dule Hill, and Jared Grimes who taps to Ellington's "It Don't Mean a Thing." Julius "iGlide Chisholm and Virgil "Lil'O" Gadson go rubbery like Gumby. Dancer Karine Plantadit comes onstage in a casket, in a funeral procession in another number. At the after party at the Copacabana, she said her mom, who's French, got spooked by seeing her daughter that way, until she leapt out, resurrected.

A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.