PORGY AND BESS Celebrates Black History Month at Apollo Theatre
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by BWW News Desk
George Gershwin’s "American folk opera," Porgy and Bess, premiered in New York City in the fall of 1935, one year after the opening of The Apollo Theater. Both the play, and the theater, became icons within African-American culture. So it’s only fitting, and perhaps overdue, that they would eventually join forces.
That moment comes this weekend. In celebration of African-American History Month, the world famous Apollo Theater will open its doors for one weekend– Friday, February 3rd through Sunday, February 5th– to give members of the Harlem community, New York City residents and tourists alike, a glimpse into the Apollo’s rich history as well as the non-profit Theater’s current activities. Visitors will have the opportunity to explore the Theater where many of the biggest icons in entertainment have launched their careers. Open House Weekend will feature displays of Apollo memorabilia, live performances from past winners of the Apollo’s signature program, Amateur Night, artists from the Apollo’s newest series Apollo Music Café, and multi-media presentations on Apollo Theater history, among a host of other activities.
On Friday, the Apollo Theater presents, in collaboration with Carnegie Hall’s Neighborhood Concert Series, a special community sing-a-long lead by 10-time Grammy Award–winning Christian jazz vocal group Take 6. Soul runs deep through the harmony-rich gospel sound of a capella sextet Take 6, channeling the uplifting spirit of doo-wop groups from the 1950s, even as they throw down fresh beats that call to mind the latest R&B and hip-hop. The group has recorded and performed with some of music’s greatest legends, such as Quincy Jones, Ella Fitzgerald, and Stevie Wonder. Take 6 will perform selections from the Apollo stage as well as interact with the audience at various points during the show. Audience members will have the opportunity to experience the magic of ensemble singing by participating singing with the group. This event is designed for all ages.
Doors open at 6PM. Show begins at 7PM. Tickets to Community Sing are free but RSVP is required. RSVPs at apollotheater.org/take6 or at the Apollo Theater Box Office. 4 tickets per individual or 12 tickets per organization. (Organizations will need to bring an official letter to the box office when picking up tickets.)
On Saturday, the focus will be on dance, saluting to the dance genres and greats that have graced the Apollo’s stage. Audience members will watch inspiring performances and get to come on stage to learn various moves. Some of Saturday’s performances include pieces from: Ballet Hispanico, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Forces of Nature Dance Theatre, Millennium Dance Company, and Amateur Night winners Devastation Dance Crew. Music will be provided by WHCR-FM’s Stormin’ Norman. Also on Saturday, dancer and choreographer Lisa Nicole Wilkerson returns to the Apollo Theater for the FREE Community Jam on Feb. 4, 2012. Lisa is serving as the Dance Captain of The Gershwins’ PORGY AND BESS the Broadway Musical, and will demonstrate –and teach-- some dance moves to the legendary Apollo Theater audience. It will be a homecoming of a sort for the actress because she was recently at the Apollo, doing a masterful job as the storyteller for the Opportunity Nation Launch, in November, 2011.
On Sunday, The Apollo Theater Open House Weekend culminates with a celebration of the music genres that made the Apollo legendary and a study of the instruments used to make the music. This day will feature performances by: Amateur Night contestants Mavis SWAN Poole & Soul Understated and “The Professor”; MTA MUNY’s The Body Electric; Speaking in Rhythms, WHCR-FM’s Supa DJ King James, and Bugnanas. There will also be a performance by Nathaniel Stampley, Alicia Hall Moran, and Paul Masse of The Gershwins’ PORGY AND BESS the Broadway Musical, who are prepared to perform a moving number from the show.