Fantasia Barrino returned to Broadway to reprise a quartet of classic standards that amplify Harlem’s indelible signature on America’s music legacy in the musical “After Midnight.”
The American Idol winner who previously appeared on the Great White Way in “The Color Purple” unleashed music compiled by Wynton Marsalis and his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra that reminisce the hey-days of two landmark showplaces — The Savoy and The Cotton Club.
Portraying one of the celebrated characters regularly invited to perform at the Cotton Club on “Celebrity Nights,” Barrino propelled her guesting role to illuminate the tradition. She looked and sounded fantastic as she rendered “Stormy Weather,” “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” Cab Calloway’s “Zaz Zuh Zaz” and “On The Sunny Side of the Street.”
Narrated by TV-famous actor Dule Hill, a revue by the Jazz at Lincoln Center All Stars amplified how music lured enthusiasts to the Harlem Village. Musician Marsalis hand-picked the world-class 17-member orchestra and their renditions are set against narratives by Langston Hughes. Performing timeless tunes the spectacular big band creation musically envelopes Tony-winning sounds to solo, duet, and dance the conceptions of Jack Viertel.
Renditions of “The Mooche” and “The Skrontch” are standouts but none provide less enchantment and toe-tapping excitement.
Singer Valerie Simpson appeared enamored by the cadence and sustainability of singer/dancers who strutted the stuff stars are made.
She lauded the variety of standards selected to make Harlem come alive inside the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.
Simpson, a songwriter whose collaboration with her late husband Nick Ashford gleaned numerous hits including Diana Ross’ winning “Reach Out & Touch” was one of the judges when Barrino competed to win Simon Cowell’s most popular talent show.
On that episode Barrino beat out Jennifer Hudson to become the chosen “American Idol.”
On this stage outing, along with a stellar cast of singers and dancers Barrino takes audiences on a journey uptown for a glimpse into Harlem’s club scene “After Midnight.”
Slated to carry on the tradition – K.D. Lang, Tony Braxton and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds will make appearance from February to March 2014.
“GARIFUNA IN PERIL” WINS
The first feature film to be presented in the Garifuna language won a major award in Italy when viewers named it their choice for a special audience honor.
“Garifuna in Peril” produced and directed by Alí Allié and Rubén Reyes scored the coveted award at the Festival del Cinema Latino Americano di Triest.
On a recent visit to northern Honduras Reyes where the majority of the Garifuna live in Central America, the producer said “The film has now been delivered to the Garifuna community.”
There on a 10-city screening tour to Punta Gorda, Roatán, where the film was made, Reyes remarked that the location was also where the Garifuna people originally landed in Honduras after being exiled by the British from their ancestral homeland, the island of St. Vincent, in 1797.
Earlier this year, Allié and Reyes took the film to southern Belize, another Garifuna population center, and also participated in a film festival in Guatemala.
The film is scheduled for promotional screenings this month in Atlanta, Detroit and Houston the U.S.
“Garifuna in Peril” will have its Caribbean premiere at the Bahamas International Film Festival next month.
Allegedly, the producers are shopping distribution options for a DVD/VOD release early next year.
Garifuna was proclaimed a language by UNESCO in 2001. It was also described to be a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
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