Carla Cook, Brandon Victor Dixon, Jared Grimes and Adriane Lenox have been cast in Duke Ellington’s Cotton Club Parade, opening November 18 at New York City Center. Cotton Club Parade is a celebration of Ellington’s years at the famed Harlem nightclub in the 1920s and early ’30s, when revues featured big bands, swing and blues, dancers, singers and novelty acts. Cotton Club Parade, conceived by Jack Viertel, with selected texts by Langston Hughes, will be directed by Warren Carlyle and will feature the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, who also serves as music director. It is the inaugural production of a new producing partnership between City Center and Jazz at Lincoln Center that combines the organizations’ specialties: musical theater and jazz. Cotton Club Parade will play for six performances, November 18-22, 2011. City Center is located on 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues.
With Ellington’s music as the centerpiece, Cotton Club Parade reimagines one of the composer’s Cotton Club floor shows. Ellington and his orchestra began a four-year residency at the Club in 1927 and continued making guest appearances throughout the 1930s. Legendary performers such as the Nicholas Brothers, Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters, Snake Hips Tucker, Peg Leg Bates and a 16-year-old Lena Horne all performed at the Club.
As in the original revues, Cotton Club Parade will feature singers, dancers and variety acts, and songs by such jazz composers as Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields (“I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” and “Digga Digga Doo”), a young Harold Arlen (“Stormy Weather,” “I’ve Got the World on a String,” “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,”), and Ellington (“Rockin’ in Rhythm,” “Cotton Club Stomp,” Black and Tan Fantasy,” and “Creole Love Call”).
The cast includes Alexandria “Brinae Ali” Bradley, Everett Bradley, Andrew “Dr.Ew” Carter, Carla Cook, Nicolette DePass, Brandon Victor Dixon, DeWitt Fleming Jr., Carmen Ruby Floyd, Jared Grimes, Jeremiah “Showtyme” Haynes, Rosena Hill, Rachael Hollingsworth, Kendrick Jones, Monroe Kent, Adriane Lenox and T. Oliver Reid, with Shani “Virgo” Alston, Jason E. Bernard, Tanya Birl, Braxton Brooks, Christopher Broughton, Chanon Judson, Karine Plantadit, Monique Smith, Daniel J. Watts, Joseph Monroe Webb, Christian Dante White and J.L. Williams.
Cotton Club Parade will run for six performances, November 18-22, 2011, according to the following schedule: Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2 and 8pm, Sunday at 6:30pm, Monday and Tuesday at 7pm. Tickets start at $25 and are available at the New York City Center Box Office (West 55th Street between 6th and 7th avenues), through CityTix® at 212-581-1212, or online at NYC Center. Further information is available at that site and at JALC.