The Apollo Theatre

Celebrating Black History Month in Theatre
Posted on 02/15/2021
Image of Apollo Theatre(from Mark Zimmerman, theatre arts director Firestone CLC and Akron School for the Arts)

Since opening its doors in 1914 and introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, the Apollo has played a major role in the emergence of jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues and soul — all quintessentially American music genres. Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis Jr., James Brown, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill and countless others began their road to stardom on the Apollo stage. Today, the Apollo is a respected not-for-profit, which presents concerts, performing arts, education and community outreach programs.

The Apollo Theater is a music hall located at 253 W.125th St. between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard (Seventh Avenue) and Frederick Douglass Boulevard (Eighth Avenue) in Harlem, Manhattan, New York City. It is a noted venue for Black performers and is the home of "Showtime at the Apollo," a nationally syndicated television variety show which showcased new talent, from 1987 to 2008, encompassing 1,093 episodes; the show was rebooted in 2018.

The theater, which has a capacity of 1,506, opened in 1914 as Hurtig & Seamon's New Burlesque Theater and was designed by George Keister in the neo-Classical style. It became the Apollo in 1934, when it was opened to Black patrons for the first time. In 1983, both the interior and exterior of the building were designated as New York City Landmarks, and the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

It is estimated that 1.3 million people visit the Apollo every year.

Image of Apollo Theatre
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