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Listen to Fantasia and Dule Hill on three tracks of Broadway's 'After Midnight' -- EXCLUSIVE FIRST LISTEN

Tony nominations are just around the corner, and one of the titles you can bet will yield a fair amount of ‘em is After Midnight, the marvelously assembled one-act jazz revue now playing on Broadway. Since opening last fall, the musical has remained one of the most acclaimed shows of the season, and remained quite relevant due to a bright cast of rotating guest performers (recent months have seen k.d. lang, Toni Braxton, Babyface, and Vanessa Williams, the latter currently playing through May 11). READ FULL STORY

Broadway Q&A: Fantasia Barrino on sexy jazz and learning to tap dance in 'After Midnight'

You definitely know Fantasia Barrino from her breakout days on American Idol, but the talented Grammy winner is now far beyond the reach of reality TV — instead, she’s tearing up the stage and delivering a truly show-stopping performance in her second endeavor on Broadway in the new musical After Midnight, celebrating the world of the Harlem jazz clubs of old.

Barrino is the first in a rotating guest star roster, meaning that she’ll only be dazzling audiences for a few months before k.d. lang joins the show (Feb. 11 – Mar. 9) followed by Babyface and Toni Braxton (Mar. 18 – 30). There’s no doubt that the revue is a fun ride for the audience, but we wanted to know whether Barrino was having as much fun onstage as it looks. And the answer, unsurprisingly, is yes.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What do you love about this show and what gets you excited when you think about what you’re a part of?
FANTASIA BARRINO: I love everything about this show, let me say that. Everything! The dancers, Dormeshia [Sumbry-Edwards] and Jared [Grimes]; the simple things like “Creole Love Call,” how beautiful that is. It has no words but just hearing [Carmen Ruby Floyd] sing it gave me so many different emotions. I was like that the entire play! READ FULL STORY

This Week on Stage: Fantasia in the Jazz Age, Neil Patrick Harris serves up magic

November is shaping up to be the busiest in recent memory, but the hustle and bustle is costing Broadway a few shows. John Grisham’s A Time to Kill became A Time to Close with an end date of Nov. 17, and the Zachary Levi-Krysta Rodriguez musical rom-com First Date will have its last date on Jan. 5. With as-yet-unannounced premiere dates for shows like Tracy Letts’ Killer Joe (making a spring Broadway bow), Will Eno’s The Realistic Joneses (starring Michael C. Hall, Toni Collette, Marisa Tomei and…Letts — busy guy!) and Terrence McNally’s Mothers and Sons with Tyne Daly, it seems there are more productions than theaters to hold them. Stay tuned for which ones make the cut. Meanwhile, there have been a bevy of new openings, including Fantasia’s return to Broadway, Ed Harris and real-life spouse Amy Madigan in a new Beth Henley drama, a new play by Pulitzer winner Bruce Norris, Neil Patrick Harris directing a new magic show, and Julie Taymor’s major comeback (click on the links below for full reviews):

After Midnight  The Cotton Club era gets a jazzy jolt with this new Broadway revue already being called the sleeper hit of the season. Did senior editor Thom Geier share the enthusiasm? Ab-scat-lutely! “There are showstoppers aplenty in the ebullient new musical revue..After Midnight is a show that’s as light on its feet as its very talented ensemble.” EW grade: A-

The Black Suits Call it School of Rock with an age upgrade; Joe Iconis’ take on a high school rock band opened in L.A., but EW.com’s Laura Hertzfeld felt they could use a little more practice: “The Black Suits never gets deep enough into the roots of suburban angst to make you feel like these guys really have something to rage about — nor does it come up with light, frothy pop numbers that urge you to bop along.” EW grade: C+

Disaster!  Off Broadway gets invaded by killer bees, tidal waves, and disco-era hits in Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick’s wacky take on disaster movies. The show doesn’t hit any icebergs on the way to hilarity. As I write in my review, “It’s the perfect antidote to those lamenting the lack of Forbidden Broadway in their urban lives…scrappy but irresistible.” EW grade: B+

Domesticated  Jeff Goldblum and Laurie Metcalf star in Bruce Norris’ dark comedy about a disgraced politico and his put-upon wife weathering a Spitzer/Wiener/Good Wife-like scandal. Thom Geier had mixed feelings on this follow-up to the author’s Clybourne Park: “[Norris] strives to make a larger point about modern gender relations and the utility (and possibility) of male monogamy. But despite Anna D. Shapiro’s crisp, well-paced direction, Domesticated is better on caustic humor and verbal one-upmanship than real insight or character development.” EW grade: B

How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them  Actress Halley Feiffer takes a hand at playwriting in a new work at Off Broadway’s Rattlestick Theatre, but Stephan Lee firmly believed she may want to hone her craft a little more. “How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them opens with three girls shrieking at the top of their lungs, and over the next 90 minutes, they never really stop.” EW grade: C

The Jacksonian  Staff writer Keith Staskiewicz took a look at the NYC premiere of Beth Henley’s eerie Southern drama about a motel barkeep (Bill Pullman) corralling his oddball patrons (including multiple Oscar nominee Ed Harris). “Robert Falls’ eerie direction has more than a hint of David Lynch…here’s a healthy vein of black humor running throughout which turns Henley’s Southern Gothic soap opera into an even more surreal experience.” EW grade: B+

La Soiree  The naughty burlesque revue — already a hit in Europe — settles in downtown NYC to make the city blush. Marc Snetiker was among those wooed by the circus-like, raunchy fun. “There is an abundance of charm oozing from the cast, who each exude a gleeful passion for their talent (be it sexy, silly, or downright strange). If traditional circus isn’t your thing, you’re in luck.” EW grade: A-

A Midsummer Night’s Dream  Visual stylist Julie Taymor trades Spidey for fairies with an opulent new version of the Shakespeare comedy, the inaugural production at Theatre for a New Audience’s new Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn. Thom Geier found himself much enchanted by Taymor’s reborn ingenuity: “There’s a magnificent muchness of her approach to the Bard’s most durable of comedies, as she tosses in everything from pillow fights to a grass-upholstered reclining chair to achieve her vision. But remarkably, this Midsummer never tips over into a too-muchness.” EW grade: A-

Nothing to Hide  It’s no secret that beloved star Neil Patrick Harris likes magic, but he’s fan of his peers too, and decided to helm a new 70-minute variety show featuring upstart showmen Derek DelGaudio and Helder Guimarães. Did Hillary Busis surrender to the sleight of hands? “[The performers are] clever, surprising, and altogether incredible, in both the literal and figurative senses.” EW grade: A-


Preview the red-hot moves in jazzy new Broadway musical ‘After Midnight’ -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

After-Midnight.jpg

Broadway is getting a necessary dose of sexy, snazzy and jazzy rhythm with After Midnight, a quite literally toe-tapping new musical set in Harlem’s Golden Age of jazz.

Psych‘s Dulé Hill oversees the proceedings in the glamorous new revue, which is a pumped-up production of Encores!’ summer hit Cotton Club Parade. The big draw, though, is that the musical will feature a rotating guest roster of all-star musicians, kicking off with Grammy-winner Fantasia (as in Barrino) followed by k.d. lang, Toni Braxton, Babyface, and more. While the music alone is worth the ticket price, the show is bolstered by riveting, jazz-fueled choreography from Broadway golden boy Warren Carlyle.

Below, take a peek at how Carlyle and company brought the moves of Harlem’s legendary nightclubs to the Broadway stage in After Midnight. The show opens on November 3, 2013 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.
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Wynton Marsalis, Fantasia riff on Duke Ellington tunes in 'After Midnight' -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

Take one American Idol alum and pair her with a master of jazz and what do you get? Some serious tunes, or as Fantasia Barrino calls it, the “meat and potatoes” of music. In the video below, we go behind the scenes with Wynton Marsalis and Fantasia as they prepare for their upcoming Broadway show, After Midnight. The musical features the songs of Duke Ellington and tells the story of his years at the famous Cotton Club in Harlem.
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