Apollo will rip out its orchestra seats and revive era when cabarets, supper clubs, bebop and Count Basie and ruled Harlem nightclub scene

Apollo will rip out its orchestra seats and revive era when cabarets, supper clubs, bebop and Count Basie and ruled Harlem nightclub scene
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
By Douglas Feiden / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

The Apollo Theater is about to rip out its orchestra seats, extend its stage and plop its audience right into the heart of the action as its recreates the long-vanished era of the Harlem nightclub of the 1930s and ’40s.

Envision a world of sophisticated ladies and satin dolls, seductive dancers who glide through air and gentlemen in two-toned shoes and felt fedoras in a joint that’s always jumpin’.

All that may be missing next year are the billowing clouds of cigarette smoke as the iconic landmark debuts “Apollo Club Harlem,” a fast-paced, 90-minute revue that uses a cabaret venue to showcase its glorious legacy of music, dance and romance.

“No smoking, but the liquor will be legal!” quips Apollo Executive Producer Mikki Shepard.

Think back to long-gone clubs like the Savoy Ballroom on Lenox Avenue, the “home of happy feet” where Count Basie stomped, or Minton’s on W. 118th St., where Dizzy Gillespie started bebop: That’s the atmosphere the Apollo aims to recreate.

“And don’t forget the chorus girls,” Shepard adds. “When you look at the pictures of the Cotton Club from way-back-when, they were beautiful, they were voluptuous, they were healthy women, and that’s our model. Our chorus girls will be the real thing!”

Hosting, acting, directing, choreographing — and hopefully, tap dancing — will be the legendary Maurice Hines, who grew up in the grand heyday of the nightclub and made his Apollo debut with his father and brother at age 7.

To transform the traditional theater into a cabaret space, the Apollo is yanking out its 600 orchestra seats and installing table seating for 250.

Clubgoers will see three-time Grammy Award winning singer Dee Dee Bridgewater, French jazz singer Cecile Salvant, street dancer Storyboard P and tap dancer Dormeshia, along with armies of other entertainers.

The show will play on Feb. 18, 22 and 23, at 8:30 p.m. Tickets range from $45 to $125, and go on sale on Monday at 10 a.m..

Read the article at the NY Daily News

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