As we look ahead to the Tony Awards on Sunday, June 8, EW takes a closer look at this season’s nominated selection of new musicals, plays, and revivals, all of which will be competing for Broadway’s highest honor. Today, we dive into this year’s nominees for Best Musical.
Opened: Nov. 3, 2013
Starring: Adriane Lenox, Dulé Hill, and a rotating list of celebrity guest stars including Fantasia Barrino, Gladys Knight, and Patti LaBelle
Concept by: Jack Viertel
Directed and Choreographed by: Warren Carlyle
Synopsis: Celebrating Duke Ellington’s years at the Cotton Club, After Midnight is a sexy and smoky musical revue of the Jazz Age. With original arrangements of Ellington classics and Langston Hughes’ poetry, After Midnight features 25 dancers and singers and a 17-piece big band picked by jazz legend Wynton Marsalis.
EW review: “But for the most part, After Midnight is a show that’s as light on its feet as its very talented ensemble. Be sure to hang around after the curtain call for Ellington’s ‘Rockin’ in Rhythm,’ a kind of it-ain’t-overture by Marsalis’ incomparable orchestra that is sure to put a spring in your step for days to come.” A- –Thom Geier
Listen to this: “Women Be Wise”
Nominations: 7 — Best Musical, Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (Adriane Lenox), Best Costume Design of a Musical (Isabel Toledo), Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Howell Binkley), Best Sound Design of a Musical (Peter Hylenski), Best Direction of a Musical (Warren Carlyle), and Best Choreography (Warren Carlyle)
Fun Fact: After Midnight was first performed as part of New York City Center’s Encores! program under the title Cotton Club Parade in 2011 and 2012.
Odds of Winning: A long shot for the gold.
Fantasia Barrino on her affinity for jazz: “Jazz music is a different language — it’s not the same as R&B, it’s not the same as most music that a lot of us listen to, especially our young people, but I feel like it’s what people need to see because it’s where it all started. It’s so elegant, it’s so classy, it’s so sexy, and most of all, it stands for those people who came before us and who went through so much. Music was their way of feeling like they could make it through.”
Warren Carlyle on what attracted him to the show: “It’s been an amazing journey. I started working on it about 4 years ago. It’s been an amazing journey of development. I took the job, I wanted to do it because of the music, the music is really what attracted me. I don’t know, I love this music. It’s incredible. It’s a giant Broadway musical. All the story is told through music and dance. There’s a little bit of poetry that weaves it together but it’s sort of a wild artistic adventure.”