The Apollo Theater
I've never been to the Apollo. Have wanted to go but never did. Today was my lucky day.
My 8 year old son is studying Harlem. The trip today was to the Apollo Theater. What a great place.
First of all, the history there is quite amazing. Mr. Mitchell gave us a full on tour. He started out there as a usher. He was fantastic. He had a great voice and told us stories that made you envision what it must have been like 30 years ago. Ella Fitzgerald started out there doing Amateur Night when she was 17 years old. They still have Amateur Night every Tuesday night, 70 years later. I am absolutely taking my family up there one night to check it out.
There is a montage of faces on the wall when you walk in of every R&B, Jazz, Motown player or group that played there during the heydey.
The theater is in major need of renovations. The seating on the top tier literally has no leg room. I am not sure what you do. Maybe sit indian style. The seats in front of the stage are sunken so it is hard to see what is happening on stage. The ceiling is peeling. But, the good news is that they have raised $43 million out of $50 to renovate the entire theater. The Apollo is landmarked so they will bring the theater back to the original state - although new chairs and leg room. Now the theater has 1480 seats and will have 1300 when the renovation is through.
Now is certainly the time to renovate. The renewal of Harlem is fantastic. 125th Street is paved with retail shops and bustling activity compared to 10 years ago when many stores were closed. The Theater is involved in the community too. Every Tuesday they show movies that are in the theaters to kids and their families that can not afford to go to the movies. Really great reach out program.
This is the Apollo's 70th Anniversary. It will be very interesting to see how the Apollo makes it's mark on the next 70 years.