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Theater Review: 'Cotton Club' -- 3 stars

The cast of “Cotton Club Parade” (Joan Marcus)

The cast of “Cotton Club Parade” (Joan Marcus) Credit: The cast of “Cotton Club Parade” (Joan Marcus)

Cotton Club Parade
3 stars

Modeled as a revue along the lines of "Smokey Joe's Cafe" or "Ain't Misbehavin," "Cotton Club Parade" - Encores! and Jazz at Lincoln Center's salute to Duke Ellington - depicts the exciting jazz entertainment and classy nightclub atmosphere one would have found in the 1920s at Harlem's famed Cotton Club, which played host to Ellington's band and prominent black performers.

The cast, composed of jazz singers and dancers, is joined by the superb Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra featuring music director Wynton Marsalis on trumpet.

Most of the music was written or at least arranged by Ellington. Some recognizable tunes include "I've Got the World on a String" and "Stormy Weather."

As staged by Warren Carlyle, who choreographed the current Broadway revival of "Follies" and directed "Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway," the athletic dancing is cute and clever. "I've Got the World on a String," for instance, revolves around red balloons with strings.

Yet the show is at its best when the band, which sits onstage, plays on its own and produces a thoroughly electrifying brass sound.

If you go: "Cotton Club Parade" plays at City Center through Tuesday. 130 W. 55th St., 212-581-1212,

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