'After Midnight' brings music of legendary Cotton Club to Broadway

Thu Oct 31, 2013 1:56pm EDT
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - "After Midnight," a Broadway musical featuring original arrangements by jazz great Duke Ellington, melds classic songs from the 1920s and 30s with dance to recreate Harlem's Golden Age and the legendary Cotton Club.

The show, which includes a big band of 17 musicians chosen by Grammy-winning jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, 25 dancers and singers and rotating guest stars, opens on Sunday.

It joins a list of Broadway productions showcasing music - from Motown hits and Beatles classics to 1960s tunes by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons and rock'n'roll legend Janis Joplin.

"Beautiful," a musical about singer-songwriter Carole King, will open early in 2014 and "The Rascals: Once Upon a Dream," a hybrid concert/Broadway show featuring the '60s group and hits such as "Groovin' and "It's a Beautiful Morning," will return for a limited run later this year.

"After Midnight" director and choreographer Warren Carlyle said putting original arrangements from decades ago to dance posed unique challenges for him.

"I am such a fan of tradition and what came before us but I also feel we have a duty to carry jazz music forward and those orchestrations have really inspired me," said Carlyle, who also choreographed "Follies" and "Finian's Rainbow."

"I wanted to honor what came before but also feel free to reinvent," he added.