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Playing at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre located at 256 West 47th Street. The musical runs ninety minutes with no intermission. This is an open ended show.
This production is an encore of “Cotton Club Parade”.
The story is based on the Cotton Club Night Club, located in Harlem. It operated from 1923-1940, even thru prohibition era. It was a white only establishment even though it featured the best black entertainers and jazz musicians of its era. Duke Ellington, Lena Horn, Count Basie, Bessie Smith, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong and Ethel Waters are some of the entertainers that performed there.
There are eighteen musicians performing songs of some of these artists. The show has a very large cast of eight main actors and twenty actors in the ensemble.
The show is woven together with poetry of Langston Hughes.
Langston Hughes (2/1/02-3/22/67) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright and columnist. He was one of the innovators of the new literary art form jazz poetry.
Fantasia is the special star. She has been nominated for several Grammy Awards. In 2010 she won a Grammy Award for Best Female R & B Vocal Performance, “Bitter Sweet”. She is the winner of the 2004 American Idol. In 2007 she won the “Theatre World Award” for “The Color Purple”.
Dule Hill is known for his roles in West Wing and Psych. He was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2002 for “The West Wing”.
Adriane Lenox won a Tony Award in 2005 for “Doubt: A Parable”.
Johnny Lee Beatty (Scenic Design) won a Tony Award in 2013 for “The Nance”. He has received eleven Tony Award nominations, “Other Desert Cities” (2012), “The Royal Family” (2010) and “The Color Purple”. He won four Drama Desk Awards for “Twentieth Century” (2004), “Dinner for Eight” (2003), “Fifth of July” (1981) and “Talley’s Foley” (1979). Johnny was nominated for ten other Drama Desk Awards.
Warren Cartyle (Director/Choreographer) received a Drama Desk Award nomination in 2009 for “Finian’s Rainbow.
Isabel Toledo (custom design) became well known for the lace ensemble First Lady Michelle Obama wore at the inauguration ceremony of President Barack Obama in 2009.
Dule Hill quotes Langston Hughes poem about Harlem. He gestures with his hand and cast members come out and perform. There are solo and group performances. Some sing, others dance and some do a combination. There is no dialogue except for Dule.
Songs are performed from the cotton Club era, such as “I Got the World on a String”, “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” and “Stormy Weather”. Twenty four songs are performed.
This is a wonderful show of the Jazz age. Those of us who have heard of big bands from our parents or have seen old movies from this time should go see this show. There is nothing like seeing it live. Eighteen musicians from the Jazz at Lincoln Center All Stars do a great job.
The choreography is breath taking. There are tap dance routines you want to stand up and cheer. In two different scenes five cast members dance vertically never getting out of formation, amazing. Isabel did a breath taking job on the costumes.
Some of the remarkable numbers done are, Dule Hill “I’ve Got the world on a String”. He did it so gracefully. Adriane Lenox, “Women Be Wise” and “Go Back Where You Stayed Last”. She has a beautiful voice and her facial expressions are fantastic.
This is a very well done show of an era we have heard about but have not lived. Now we can relive this era. We can be “Happy As the Day Is Long”. Duke Ellington did this song in 1933.
Review by Rozanna Radakovich.
Photos by Annazor.
To read a candid interview with the cast, scroll down the left side for recent photos. Click on recent photos for this and other shows.