Petition to Make the Apollo Theater a Broadway House Surpasses 5,000 Signatures

By: Jun. 06, 2020
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Petition to Make the Apollo Theater a Broadway House Surpasses 5,000 Signatures

A petition has been created to make the Apollo Theater a Broadway house.

Per the petition, there are currently 41 Broadway theatres, none of which have Black owners. The Apollo Theater is owned by the State of New York, but is run by the Apollo Theatre Foundation, which is a Black-run non-profit organization, led by President & CEO Jonelle Procope.

The historic theater meets all of the requirements of a Broadway house, including having 500 seats or more, being located in Manhattan, and employing members of the Actors' Equity Association. The petition is aiming to help the Apollo gain entrance to the Broadway League as a board member, direct board participation at American Theatre Wing, direct exposure and opportunity for Spring Road conference participation, and a vote for who is nominating the shows.

The venue has not commented on the petition, but it has now reached over 5,000 signatures.

To learn more or to sign the petition, click here.

Petition to Make the Apollo Theater a Broadway House Surpasses 5,000 Signatures
Curtain call of Dreamgirls at the Apollo.
View more photos here.

In 2009, the Apollo housed a run of Dreamgirls, which played 5 weeks, before the production embarked on a National Tour.

The cast of Dreamgirls included Moya Angela as Effie White and featured, as The Dreams, Syesha Mercado as Deena Jones, Adrienne Warren as Lorrell Robinson, and Margaret Hoffman as Michelle Morris, with Chaz Lamar Shepherd as Curtis Taylor, Jr., Chester Gregory is James "Thunder" Early, Trevon Davis as C.C. White, Milton Craig Nealy as Marty Madison.

A production of Blue by Charles Randolph-Wright was set to play at the Apollo this year, directed by Phylicia Rashad. The production was set to begin previews on April 27th and run through August 16th, but was cancelled due to the health crisis.

The cast of Blue was to be led by Tony Award and Emmy Award winner Leslie Uggams in the role of Tillie Clark and Emmy Award winner Lynn Whitfield in the role of Peggy Clark.

The Apollo Theater opened its doors in 1914, initially owned by Benjamin Hurtig and Harry Seamon, who called it Hurtig and Seamon's New Burlesque Theater. In 1933, Fiorello La Guardia began a campaign against burlesque, causing the theater to close.

Sidney Cohen reopened the building as the 125th Street Apollo Theatre in 1934 with his partner, Morris Sussman serving as manager. Frank Schiffman and Leo Brecher took over the Apollo in 1935, and their families operated the Theater until the late 1970s.

The Apollo reopened briefly in 1978 under new management then closed again in November 1979. In 1981, it was purchased by Percy Sutton a prominent lawyer, politician, media and technology executive, and a group of private investors. Under Sutton's ownership, the Theater was equipped with a recording and television studio.

In 1983, the Apollo received state and city landmark status and in 1991, Apollo Theater Foundation, Inc., was established as a private, not-for-profit organization to manage, fund and oversee programming for the Apollo Theater.

Today, the Apollo, which functions under the guidance of a Board of Directors, presents concerts, performing arts, education and community outreach programs.