A Night of Pure Dance and Music

posted by Wendy Perron on Friday, Jan 31, 2014
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You can't tell from this photo, but Dormeshia is elegant and joyous in After Midnight. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Some of the best dancers in New York are kicking up a storm in After Midnight, the musical about the Cotton Club of 1920s Harlem.

 

Karine Plantadit, of recent Come Fly Away fame; queen of tap Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards; undisputed star dancer and Dance Magazine Awardee Desmond Richardson; and the man whose tap dancing ignites fireworks, Jared Grimes.

 

Karine photo by matthew murphy
Karine Plantadit in After Midnight
Photo by Matthew Murphy

 

They share the stage with the Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Stars in a rich brew of song and dance. However, it’s just a revue—happy, happy, happy—nothing too heavy (no hint of the racial politics of the Cotton Club, where blacks performed but were not allowed to be patrons). Ultimately, though, the show takes us through an entertaining range of moods and textures.

 

The big surprise to me was that Sumbry-Edwards, shining bright with her elegant stage presence, has a singing number! Watching her sing and dance, I felt she was born for Broadway. She’s buoyantly sexy, energized by her own virtuosity, with her feet clicking away.

 

after midnight
Virgil "Lil'O" Gadson and Karine Plantadit
Photo by Matthew Murphy

 

Karine Plantadit does not let a wig of straight blond hair cramp her bustin-out style. Her dancing is fun and furious especially when paired with Virgil “Lil’ O” Gadson.

 

The final solo goes to Jared Grimes, but he was limited to a tiny sliver of the usual force he generates in his own shows.

 

(Unfortunately Desmond Richardson didn’t appear in the matinee performance I saw.)

 

Another great dancer, Bahiyah Hibah, was submerged in the ensemble in elaborate showgirl outfits or in bobby sox. I’ve seen her in several musicals, and whenever I spot her, I am spellbound by the majestic fluidity of her movement. (Read about her in our cover story on ensemble dancers.)

 

Choreographically, the highpoint was a brilliant number for six guys called “Peckin.”  Director/choreographer Warren Carlyle gave them a nifty march-like beginning, with crafty use of simple steps—the Rockettes meets Buster Keaton. It branched out in witty ways, always catching the eye with new formations and mischievous humor.

 

For a rollicking good time, I recommend After Midnight.