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 the joint was jumping with revues featuring 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 renowned 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 the greatest jazz composers of the time, including 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 of course, Duke 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 M. Hill-Jackson, Rachael Hollingsworth, KendRick Jones, Monroe Kent III, 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.
Duke Ellington influenced millions of people around the world and at home. During the course of his 50-year career, he composed more than 3,000 songs and played more than 20,000 performances in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia. He gave American music its own sound for the first time with popular hits such as "It Don't Mean a Thing if It Ain't Got That Swing," "Sophisticated Lady," "Mood Indigo," "Solitude," "In a Mellotone," and "Satin Doll." Ellington was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1966 and later earned several other prizes, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969 and the Legion of Honor by France in 1973.