Tag: “After Midnight”

Vanessa Williams to Return to Miss America Pageant as Judge

Vanessa Williams (photo via deadline.com)
Vanessa Williams (photo via deadline.com)

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Three decades after she gave up the crown amid a nude photo scandal, Vanessa Williams is returning to the Miss America pageant.

The Miss America Organization, Dick Clark Productions and the ABC television network announced Tuesday they are bringing back the award-winning actress and singer to serve as head judge for the 2016 competition. It begins Tuesday and culminates in the crowning of the next Miss America on Sunday.

Williams, the first African-American Miss America, won the title in 1984 but resigned after Penthouse magazine published sexually explicit photographs of her taken several years earlier.

She went on to have a successful career in film, television, music and Broadway.

“It was two drastically different images — that was the issue. It was Miss America, who is really kind of untouched and not reality, and then there was this woman in the picture that was the polar opposite of purity, and I was a normal kid in the middle,” Williams said in an interview broadcast Tuesday on “Good Morning America.” ”That’s one of the problems I’ve had to deal with in my career, not only being a Miss America, but being a scandalous Miss America.”

Sam Haskell, executive chairman and CEO of the Miss America Organization, said his friendship with Williams predated the turmoil caused by the release of the photos.

“I have been friends with Vanessa for 32 years,” he told The Associated Press. “When the photos were published, there were people urging her to fight, but close supporters knew if she lost that fight that she would be completely removed from the history books.”

Haskell has been trying for a decade to bring Williams back to the Miss America stage, but this was the first year the logistics could be arranged.

“Vanessa’s career speaks for itself, with all the success that she has had,” Haskell said. “Her return as a huge success is a way for us all to move forward and put the past behind us. It’s truly an honor to welcome her back to the Miss America Pageant.”

Since her 1988 debut album, “The Right Stuff,” Williams has sold more than 7 million records worldwide and has scored No. 1 and Top 10 hits on various Billboard album and singles charts, including pop, dance, R&B, adult contemporary, holiday, Latin, Gospel and jazz.

Her work has been honored by 4 Emmy nominations; 17 Grammy nominations (of which 11 were for her individually); a Tony nomination, 3 Screen Actors Guild award nominations; 7 NAACP Image Awards; and a Golden Globe, Grammy and an Oscar for Best Original Song for her platinum single “Colors of the Wind,” from the Disney film “Pocahontas.”

She also starred on the TV shows “Ugly Betty” and “Desperate Housewives.”

Williams co-starred with Cicely Tyson and Cuba Gooding Jr. in Broadway’s “The Trip To Bountiful” in 2013. She returned to the Great White Way the next year in the musical “After Midnight.”

She joins pageant hosts Chris Harrison and Brooke Burke-Charvet, music curator Nick Jonas and celebrity judges Brett Eldredge, Taya Kyle, Danica McKellar, Kevin O’Leary, Amy Purdy and Zendaya.

article by Wayne Parry via bigstory.ap.org

African-American Conductors Make History on Broadway

(Photo courtesy of sneakpeekphotography.com)
(Photo courtesy of sneakpeekphotography.com)

A watershed moment, a major milestone, recently took place on Broadway, with the orchestras of four major shows led under the batons of distinguished African-American music directors and conductors. This marks the first time in the history of Broadway that this many African-Americans have been in executive roles in major productions running contemporaneously.

The men in front of the orchestra and behind the music are (L to R) Daryl Waters, music supervisor and conductor for “After Midnight,” recalling Duke Ellington’s years at the Cotton Club; Zane Mark, music director and conductor for “Holler If Ya Hear Me,” inspired by the late hip-hop legend Tupac Shakur; Joseph Joubert, music director and conductor for “Motown the Musical,” about Berry Gordy’s famous music label; and Shelton Becton, conductor, pianist and performer in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill,” about the legendary Billie Holliday.

article via amsterdamnews.com

THEATER REVIEW: Fantasia Barrino Celebrates Harlem’s Jazz Age In “After Midnight”

fantasia barrino After Midnight
Fantasia Barrino performs at ‘After Midnight’ Broadway opening night curtain call at Brooks Atkinson Theatre on November 3, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — NEW YORK (AP) — There are few things that bring smiles to even the most jaded faces — balloons, blaring trumpets and tap dancers. A new Broadway revue has two — no, make that all three — so no wonder it leaves you feeling lighter than air.  After Midnight, a candy sampler of some two dozen musical numbers that showcase dance, jazz or singing, opened Sunday at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre led by musical genius Wynton Marsalis, an endearing Dule Hill as its host and a thrilling guest singer in Fantasia Barrino.

The show, which first surfaced in 2011 off-Broadway, tries to re-create the energy and fun of Harlem’s famous Cotton Club nightclub in the 1920s and 30s, when Duke Ellington and his band made everything cool. It does so with panache but avoids sounding old-fashioned: There’s even room for some breakdancing and popping.  As 17 musicians from Jazz at Lincoln Center play, the night includes Fantasia belting out a super “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” a subdued “Stormy Weather” and an infectious “Zaz Zuh Zaz.” Adriane Lenox plays a hysterical boozy hellcat in two numbers, “Women Be Wise” and “Go Back Where You Stayed Last Night.”

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