A few months ago, I relayed info regarding the then-forthcoming Broadway production “After Midnight.” Well, Sunday, Nov. 3 was the official world premiere of its run on the Great White Way, and with honesty, I can say that the promise shown to the media at a brunch in August paled in comparison to the actual show.
Taking in the opening night festivities were Kandi Burress, Rosie Perez, George C. Wolfe, Condola Rashad, Tonya Pickens, Darlene Love, Hugh Jackman, Freddie Jackson and Valerie Simpson. The Brooks Atkinson Theatre (256 W. 47th St.) was transformed into the Cotton Club. Razor-sharp gear draped the cool demeanor of the cast as the spirit and music of Duke Ellington ran through the 17-piece big band, hand-selected by one of the torchbearers of pure jazz in Wynton Marsalis.
Vocal selections, while all enjoyable, especially the hilarious number “Women Be Wise” performed by Adriane Lenox, were clearly out-shadowed by the sho nuff showstopper Fantasia Barrino. Just as compelling were the stories unearthed by choreographer Warren Carlye and executed with pinpoint precision by the featured dancers. Big ups to Julius “iGlide” Chisolm and Virgil “Lil O” Gadson for their high energy dance battle. Subtly weaved into the backdrop was some spoken word from Langston Hughes. I’m looking forward to March, when Babyface and Toni Braxton have their “After Midnight” run.
Music, dance, spoken word and crazy energy—those ingredients sound familiar? In contemporary terms, it should. These qualities found a new home as it transformed into hip-hop. Along the way there, however, came the perfect bridge between the smoothness of the big band to the grit of the street: Mr. James Brown, “the Funky President,” did that. Two weeks ago, the Apollo hosted a dance tribute to “the Godfather of Soul” by a troupe called Philadanco at “Get on the Good Foot.”
This weekend, that evolution of culture is celebrated, as the Universal Zulu Nation celebrates their 40th anniversary of “Peace, Unity, Love and Having Fun.” Brown, “Soul Brother No. 1,” is one of the forefathers who will be honored for his contributions to the growth of the culture. Also being acknowledged is Sly Stone, George Clinton and Bootsy Collins. Over the course of the weekend, a few hip-hop icons will take the stage to honor the holy land of hip-hop. Take a look.
Nov. 6: Sullivan Room, 218 Sullivan St., between West Third and Bleecker streets. $20 for ages 21 and over. $25 for under 21. Ladies in free before 11:30 p.m. DJs Afrika Bambaataa, TC Izlam, Large Professor, Just-Ice, Baby Bam, Dynamix 2, Evil Dee, Rich Medina, Rob Swift, and Wednesday. Hosts: Freedom Williams, Bonz Malone and TC Izlam
Nov. 7 and 9: National Black Theater, 2031 5th Ave., between 125th and 126th streets, Harlem. 8 p.m.-3 a.m., show starts at 10 p.m. All ages. Featuring DITC (OC, AG, Showbiz, Lord Finesse, DiamonD, Buckwild), MVP, Junior Demus, Joe Ski Love, Methuzalah Gem, Blahzay, Billy Ray, Jasiri X, Rebel Diaz, Sa Roc, Black UN, K-Swift, Balla Belly, L.A.W. DJs Jazzy Jay Q Tip, GrandWizzard Theodore, Mell Starr, Mark Luv, 9th Wonder, DJ Kool D and DJ Tyrone the Mixologist. Hosts: GrandMaster Caz and Ed Lover. Opening: M.C. Spice.
Nov. 8: National Black Theater, 2031 5th Ave., between 125th and 126th streets, Harlem. 8 p.m.-3 a.m., show starts at 10 p.m. All ages. Featuring Ice Cube, Public Enemy, Ice T, Naughty Nation and UltraMagnetic MCs. DJs Afrika Bambaataa, Kool DJ Red Alert, Afrika Islam, Jazzy Jay, Easy LG, Mark Luv and Luvbug Starski. Opening: M.C. Spice. Host: Mick Benzo.
Nov. 10: SOBs, 200 Varick St. at Houston Street, 8 p.m.-3 a.m. Ages 18 and over. Hosted by GrandMaster Caz.
Hope that’ll hold you. Holla at you next week. Till then, enjoy the nightlife.