'After Midnight' Brings Fantasia Back to Broadway

5:22 PM PST 07/18/2013 by David Rooney
Fantasia

The Grammy-winning "American Idol" season three champion will be first in a rotating roster of guest stars to headline the Cotton Club jazz tribute.

Producers of Around Midnight have confirmed the previously rumored return to Broadway of American Idol season three winner Fantasia Barrino, kicking off a planned series of guest headliners in the celebration of Harlem's legendary jazz nightlife.

Mirroring the tradition of starry guests at the Cotton Club in its heyday, the musical aims to recruit contemporary artists in limited engagements throughout its run in the hopes of attracting music fans beyond the regular Broadway demographic.

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The revue begins preview performances Oct. 18 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, with an official opening set for Nov. 3. Directed by Warren Carlyle, it features the big-band sounds of multiple Grammy winner Wynton Marsalis' handpicked 17-piece Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Stars.

Fantasia will play performances through Feb. 9. Complete casting and musician lineup is to be announced.

A hit in two previous off-Broadway engagements under the title Cotton Club Parade, Around Midnight revisits the music of Duke Ellington in his original arrangements. Conceived by Jack Viertel, the show will feature 25 vocalists and dancers performing numbers set against a backdrop of Langston Hughes' poetry.

Costuming on the production is by art-fashion design team Isabel and Ruben Toledo, with sets by John Lee Beatty, a Tony Award winner last season for The Nance.

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While Broadway has welcomed a steady stream of American Idol alumni during the past decade, Fantasia demonstrated the most substantial box office impact of them all when she took over the lead role of Celie in 2007 in the musical The Color Purple. The production's grosses had begun to slump at that time, but strong reviews and enthusiastic fan word-of-mouth for the new star significantly extended the show's life.

Around Midnight is produced by Scott Sanders Productions and Marsalis in association with Marks-Moore-Turnbull Group, Stephen and Ruth Hendel and Tom Kirdahy.

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