June 26, 2014

Patti LaBelle: Praying Angels Will Save Broadway’s “After Midnight”

Patti LaBelle & Dule Hill in After Midnight

Earlier this month news broke that “After Midnight” would close on June 29 after having played 19 preview performances and 272 regular performances.

The Tony Award-nominated musical revue originally starred actor Dulé Hill and “American Idol” winner Fantasia Barrino when it opened to critical acclaim on Nov. 3, 2013.

Despite having previously announced that Grammy winners Gladys Knight and Natalie Cole would join the production following its current star Patti LaBelle later this summer, the show’s producer Scott Sanders confirmed on June 14 that show would close.  In an interview with The New York Times, Sanders explained that he wanted the show to go dark for the week between LaBelle’s departure on June 29 and Knight starting on July 8.

His negotiations with the dozen theatrical unions did not pan out and because they could temporarily shut down to save money and avoid poor ticket sales, he had to ultimately close the show early.

Fantasia in “After Midnight”

But now LaBelle, who is wowing fans in alongside Hill, is praying that a miracle can save the show.

The 70-year-old vocal powerhouse told ABC News Radio that she has “angels working, people that I hope will come to the play and put some money up to keep it alive.”

She continued: “This play is so wonderful, so my heart is broken for the cast. Totally. And that Gladys Knight won’t get a chance or Natalie Cole won’t get a chance to experience this wonderful play.”

Dulé Hill in “After Midnight”

LaBelle, who appeared along with Knight and Barrino on the 2014 Tony Awards in an opening number from “After Midnight,” said she “praying that somebody, a big angel, will come and say, ‘Here’s enough money to keep it going.'”

“After Midnight” celebrates Duke Ellington’s years at the Cotton Club nightclub in the 1930′s in Harlem.  The musical, also produced by Wynton Marsalis, is an important time in music to remember reminded LaBelle.  So much so, the singer is willing to collect money with buckets after the show and auction off a kiss for $5,000 to keep the show going herself.

The production was capitalized at about $7 million and will close at a financial loss, but investors may recoup if a national tour of the show, which is in discussions, proves to be a success.

As of right now, no new investors have come onboard and production representatives for the show declined to comment on the possibility of it running through the summer.

After Barrino originated the role, k.d. lang, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Toni Braxton and Vanessa L. Williams also starred in the production.

Gladys Knight, Patti Labelle, Dule Hill, Adrienne Lenox & cast of “After Midnight”


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