'After Midnight' to End Broadway Run Early

12:53 PM PST 06/14/2014 by David Rooney
Matthew Murphy
Dule Hill and the cast of 'After Midnight'

The Tony-nominated Harlem Renaissance revue, which failed to build commercial momentum to match its critical acclaim, will play its final performance on June 29.

NEW YORK — Despite landing seven Tony Award nominations including best musical and generating some of the best reviews of the 2013-14 season, the Jazz Age revue After Midnight will close early on June 29, scrapping plans for two starry special guest vocalist engagements scheduled for later in the summer.

Lead producers Scott Sanders and Wynton Marsalis confirmed the news on Saturday.

The show began previews on Oct. 18 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, officially opening to ecstatic reviews on Nov. 3. It landed on the top-10 2013 New York theater lists of a number of publications, including The Hollywood Reporter.

THEATER REVIEW 'After Midnight'

Expanded from an earlier concert presentation titled Cotton Club Parade, the Broadway production is a song-and-dance revue conceived by Jack Viertel around music from the Duke Ellington years at such Harlem hotspots as the Cotton Club. The show features an all-star jazz orchestra handpicked by Marsalis, and is fronted by Dule Hill as an emcee figure who links the various numbers with excerpts from the poetry of Langston Hughes.

While director Warren Carlyle won a Tony Award for best choreography, the show failed to score a win in any of the other categories in which it was nominated. And despite its splashy opening number on the CBS awards telecast, it appears not to have seen a significant enough boost at the box office to stick out the summer months.

The show has played to modest business throughout its eight-month run, registering its strongest week over Christmas, with box office of $891,410. Total grosses as of Sunday June 8 were $19.2 million.

VIDEO 'After Midnight' Sneak Peek

The production was designed to showcase a rotating roster of guest stars, starting with Fantasia Barrino and continuing with k.d. lang, Toni Braxton, Kenny "Babyface" Edmunds and Vanessa Williams. Patti LaBelle is currently appearing in the show, scheduled through its June 29 closing performance. But the planned appearances by Gladys Knight and Natalie Cole that were to follow have been scratched.

Sanders told The New York Times that discussions are underway to mount a national tour in the hopes of recouping some of the investment lost on the $7 million Broadway production. At the time of its closing, After Midnight will have played 19 previews and 272 regular performances.

The musical adaptation of the screen comedy Honeymoon in Vegas, which premiered to rave reviews last year in an out-of-town tryout at New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse, is tipped to fill the plum Broadway vacancy at the Brooks Atkinson. That show has a score by Jason Robert Brown, a double Tony winner this year for his score and orchestrations for the short-lived The Bridges of Madison County.

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