Two years ago, City Center's highly successful Encores! series teamed up with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra to present "Cotton Club Parade," a breezy and elegant 90-minute revue celebrating the heyday of nightclub entertainment in 1930s Harlem with an all-black cast.
The following year, it returned to City Center for an encore run, and now it has finally transferred to Broadway under the new, more generic title "After Midnight."
Unlike well-known revues such as "Smokey Joe's Café" and "Ain't Misbehavin," which tend to be lean and economical, "After Midnight" offers a much larger cast and orchestra. In other words, the entertainment is served up sumptuously.
Of its two dozen songs, a little more than half were written or arranged by Duke Ellington ("It Don't Mean a Thing," "Creole Love Call"), with others by Harold Arlen ("I've Got the World on a String," "Stormy Weather") and Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh ("On the Sunny Side of the Street," "I Can't Give You Anything But Love").
While there is no plot, many of the production numbers have characters and clever concepts and lead-ins. Dulé Hill ("The West Wing") also delivers some poetic lines by Langston Hughes about Harlem's atmosphere during the period.
As staged by Warren Carlyle, "After Midnight" brings lively and snazzy period entertainment to Broadway with phenomenal sound, effervescent movement and a joyous spirit.
While Hill doesn't possess much of a singing voice, he makes for a likable narrator with his smooth persona. Fantasia Barrino, who is currently appearing as a special guest vocalist, offers excellent takes on several standards, as does the confident and luminous Adriane Lenox.
“After Midnight” plays an open run at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. 256 W. 47th St., 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com.