BWW Reviews: Broadway Amateur Night at The Apollo Features Talented Vocalists
The 79th Season of Amateur Night at The Apollo is part of the theater's tradition that has launched the careers of such greats as The Jackson Five and Machine Gun Kelly. On Wednesday, March 20th, Broadway was the theme for Amateur Night, produced by Marion J. Caffey. Aspiring singers took to the stage for the chance to win $10,000. Sponsored by Coca-Cola, it is the original "talent show," where audiences decide the winner. "Be Good or Be Gone" is the rule of Apollo's Amateur Nights. However, on Broadway Amateur Night audiences were not permitted to BOO anyone off the stage. Each singer performed his entire selection.
DJ Jess opened the house, as he does weekly at the shows, spinning favorite songs. As a special treat, actor and impersonator, CP Lacey paid tribute to Cab Calloway, performing a medley of songs and dances in perfect Calloway style, including the popular "Minnie the Moocher." The ever talented Apollo Theater Amateur Night Band, directed by Onree Gill, provided musical accompaniment throughout the night.
The host of Amateur Night for the last nine years, comedian Capone, shared the stage with two co-hosts. Broadway stars, Jennie Harney and Bill Harney, teamed up to introduce the competitors, provide the audience with interesting background about their careers, and to entertain. Jennie Harney sang a beautiful medley of Cole Porter hits, followed by the two singers performing a song from Ain't Misbehavin, the show where they first met in 1979. Now, 34 years later, their talents are still delighting theater audiences.
Special guest star Adrienne Lenox, who received the Drama Desk Award and Tony for her performance in Doubt, also made a guest appearance. She awarded a lucky audience member with several seats to the upcoming Cicely Tyson play, A Trip to Bountiful.
An Apollo tradition is in place at all the performances. For good luck, each contestant approaches the "Tree of Hope" and gives it a pat or rub for good luck. It once stood between the Lafayette Theatre and Connie's Inn and black performers believed it to be good luck to those who stood beneath its branches. The tree symbolizes the promise that Harlem held for millions of aspiring African-Americans.
Amateur Night's "Stars of Tomorrow" segment featured three talented child performers singing Broadway tunes. The winner of this segment, Claire Kwon, age 15, sang "Santa Fe" from Newsies.
After all the competing singers performed, Capone set the electronic meter in place to gauge the audience reactions as he introduced the competitors. More than once he noted that the scores were close, but in the end the winners were clear. Jeremy Erwin won first place with a show stopping rendition of "This is the Moment" from Jekyll & Hyde; Nattalyee Randall took home second place with a heartfelt performance of "I'm Here" from The Color Purple; Sara Plunkett won third place singing "I Who Have Nothing" from Smokin' Joe's Cafe.
The Apollo Theater Amateur Nights are an excellent choice for entertainment in the city. Don't miss your chance to see the stars of tomorrow. Amateur night is held weekly on Wednesday nights through November 27th. Visit their website at http://www.amateurnight.org/
Photo Credit: Shahar Azran