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BWW Review: Amateur Night Opens 2013 Season at The Apollo

The 2013 season opener of Amateur Night at The Apollo was exciting for the sold-out audience. With the promise of seeing excellent new talent, the crowd enjoyed the show that is a tradition for The Apollo Theater. The classic competition relies on audience reaction to select the winner. Some of the greatest names in performance history have made their debuts on the Apollo Stage for Amateur Night including Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, and Michael Jackson. The show is produced by Marion J. Caffey, who has been a song and dance man in New York City since 1981. Amateur Night is sponsored by Coca-Cola, and competitors have the opportunity to win $10,000.

The house opened with DJ Jess warming up the crowd, spinning party favorites, and inviting everyone to do the popular dance by The Village People, "YMCA." The very talented Apollo Amateur Night Band took to the stage to provide lively music and accompaniment for all of the competitors. The opening host, Joe Gray, warmed up the audience, and let them know how important their participation in the selection process of the winner is by cheering or jeering. "Be Good or Be Gone" is a motto that captures the spirit of The Apollo's classic talent competition. He also introduced, CP Lacey, "The Executioner," a dancer and actor, who escorts competitors off the stage when the "bad talent" alarm rings. Gray also invited four audience members on stage for a dance challenge.

The well-known comedian Capone, often called the "Gangster of Comedy," hosted the talent show portion of the program. His good natured humor and clever anecdotes added the right touch to the program. As part of the "Child Stars of Tomorrow" competition, three young vocalists took to the stage. Keyon Wilson Brown won the competition with his version of "Who's Lovin' You."

In the first half of the show, Amateur Night contestants included rapper, Mike Flowz, and two vocalists, Chika Mikawa and Carllie Jaxen. As a special guest, American Idol superstar, Reuben Studdard delighted the audience with his musical salute to Sam Cooke and Luther Vandross.

Competition continued after a brief intermission with Saxophonist Terrance "TJ" Washington and vocalists Kevonna Venable, Joshua Aaron, and Kali B. With the wealth of talent that performed on The Apollo stage for Amateur Night, the judging segment by the audience was a challenge. Joshua Aaron took first place with his rendition of "Fool for You," Carllie Jaxen took second singing "Listen," and Kevonna Venable took third with her song, "Thinkin' Bout You" accompanied by her acoustic guitar.

Amateur Night at The Apollo Theater is an opportunity to be a part of a tradition in entertainment. Don't miss your chance to see the stars of tomorrow. Amateur night is held on Wednesday nights through November 27th. Visit their website at

Photo Credit: Shahar Azran

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