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Showtime At The Apollo by [Fox, Ted]
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Showtime At The Apollo Kindle Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Length: 412 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews


"A wonderful book." -- Tavis Smiley, National Public Radio 3/4/04

"Splendid…a richly anecdotal picture...The essential book, mandatory for the most casual student as well as the most ardent fan." -- David Hinckley, (NY) Daily News 1/26/04

"The definitive history of Harlem’s (and black America’s) essential theater." -- New York Magazine

From the Publisher

A night out at the Apollo was something special and enjoyable and more – the Apollo was home. Nearly every black performer interviewed for Ted Fox's "Showtime at the Apollo: The Story of Harlem's World Famous Theatre" used the word "home" to describe what the Apollo meant to them. It was home to all the performers who along with the audience comprised the Apollo family. It was a family that often scrapped, a family of sibling love and rivalry, but one bound together by shared experiences, hopes and ambitions. Although for performers the work was terribly difficult, and the theatre, like Harlem itself, was always rough, everyone looked forward to coming home to the Apollo. As Dionne Warwick says in the book, "The theatre was terrible: drafty, dirty, smelly – awful; and we loved every minute of it."

While the Apollo is now re-inventing itself and once again burnishing the legend – it nearly died in the 1970s and was forced to close its doors. As the civil rights movement began to alter the nation’s consciousness, other areas of opportunity became available at last to black performers. The system the Apollo was forced to work within for so many years began to collapse. The general acceptance of black culture into American popular culture was the beginning of something brand new, but it was also the beginning of the end for the Apollo Theatre. For it is the final irony that the ultimate casualty of this revolution was the Apollo itself.

Today, the Apollo Theatre remains at the heart of the African-American community – the place that legends still call home – as it’s been since 1934… James Brown, Smokey Robinson and George Clinton come back …Top black pop stars including Mary J. Blige and P.Diddy, trod the Apollo stage, following in the footsteps of Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis and Dionne Warwick … Hip-hop group, The Roots, bring the sounds of the street into the theatre like the Orioles in their day… The Apollo’s "Latin Nites" series continues the vibrant tradition of Tito Puente and Mongo Santamaria …Wynton Marsalis carries the jazz standard of Dizzy Gillespie …On his 1999 HBO special, Chris Rock shocked and slayed the Apollo crowd summoning memories of Redd Foxx … Debuting her first tour in a decade at the theatre, Whoopi Goldberg, after enjoying mass stardom, paid homage to the Apollo much as Bill Cosby once did… Anxious neophytes continue flocking to Amateur Night in hopes of making it big by touching The Tree of Hope …Through good times and bad, changes in time, taste and technologies it will always be Showtime at the Apollo.

Product Details

  • File Size: 10481 KB
  • Print Length: 412 pages
  • Publication Date: January 18, 2014
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,237,788 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Ted Fox has brought us back in time when The Apollo Theatre was historically one of the most important theatres in U.S. history. It was a cultural temple unlike any American theatre and could be compared to few others, possibly only the French turn of the century houses which were performer and audience havens of (their) contemporary pulse. Mr. Fox has done his homework in interviews, research and photo archives. He also offers an in-depth and respectful look at the performers, management and audiences, and as importantly - The Apollo building itself as a cornerstone of the Harlem community through wars, riots, celebrations, fads and cultural milestones. As research for Harlem, Black Studies and American musical culture and its etaffect - it is necessay. As a great read it is just great fun
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Recently the descriptive "legend" has been bestowed willy-nilly on recipients of ephemeral celebrity and of dubious merit and accomplishment. But the Apollo Theater in Harlem, N.Y. is a genuine legend, equal, and even superior to any music theater in the world.

The Classical Revival style building at 253 West 125th street in Harlem was designed by George Keiser and built in 1913-14 as the Hurtig & Seamon's Burlesque Theater, which had a "Whites Only" policy that was rigorously enforced. By the early 1930s, the place fell into disrepair and closed. Sidney Cohen, who owned several theaters in Harlem, bought and renovated the theater, renaming it "Apollo Theater" that catered to the Black residents of the area.
The "Apollo" faced stiff competition from other music halls, especially Schiffman's "Lafayette" and Brecher's "Harlem Opera House" that booked dynamic acts, such as Bill `Bogangles' Robinson and Louis Armstrong. After Cohen died, Schiffman and Brecher took over the "Apollo" and progressed from vaudeville acts to swing era big bands, comic acts, dance and variety shows.
The theater became a gathering place for the neighborhood; men, women and children would flock to the Apollo, when it opened its doors at 10 AM, and some would stay all day through the night to watch the multiple shows offered. Cartoons and newsreel were usually followed by a full length feature fim. <And at last the master of ceremonies would announce, to the rising applause and screams from the audience: "Ladies and gentlemen, it's showtime at the Apollo!" Ba-ba-boom, the band would break into the Apollo theme song, "I May Be Wrong (But I Think You're Wonderful)," written in 1929 by Harry Sullivan and Harry Ruskin, and the show was rolling >.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I cannot express what an insightful and fully informative education I had on the Apollo Theatre! My knowledge about the famous theatre did not go past the rock and soul era of the Theatre. But, there is so much to learn on exactly how far this theatre goes back. I believe every aspect of the history is told.

This theatre was where everybody who was anybody made their appearance at the Apollo. The names that are mentioned, dating back to the earliest days, covering all types of shows, jazz, big bands, gospel, blues, rock, dance, comics, and novelty acts. To many performers, it was home while also known as the "number one" theatre on the map.

In the forties, the war years, where Big Band dominated and you can learn about the greats here, Charlie Parker, Earl Hines, Ink Spots, Dinah Washington, Pearl Bailey, Billie Holliday, Dizzy Gillespie, Wynonie Harris, and so many more mentioned. The fifties covered Eartha Kitt, Josephine Baker and her costumes, and Johnny Mathis and his fear of performing before black people, etc.

What was insightful was the talk about Amateur Night. So many famous people began their career on Amateur Night. How this was in operation was very interesting. You will also hear about the novelty acts, comedians and the dancers.

There was a time in the sixties when the focus was on the Disc Jockeys and their popularity. Equally telling was the Gospel era at the Apollo, gospel women, Big Mama Thornton, Sister Rosetta Tharp, quartets such as The Dixie Hummingbirds, Soul Stirrers.

Most well-known to me was the era of the sixties, James Brown, Ray Charles, Jackie Wilson, etc.

The photo images are plentiful, great historic photos of the past.
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Excellent synopsis of the history of a great theater. From its origins, through the depression to the '80s the theater showcased not only acts, but music. Located in Harlem, it was the theater hosting Black actors, singers, dancers before they were able to break into mainstream or white theaters. It was THE unique theater well ahead of its time and original in its format. The best and greatest white acts begged to get on stage while those growing up in Harlem called that stage "home." Worthwhile reading.
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Format: Paperback
Have you ever wondered how the Apollo Theatre began? Who was the mastermind behind the Apollo? When did the famous "Amateur Night at the Apollo" begin? The Apollo Theatre is a legend in both the Black and White communities. It was thought by many to be the greatest show business place in the world. If an entertainer could make it at the Apollo, he could make it anywhere. SHOWTIME AT THE APOLLO by Ted Fox is a fine tribute to this legend. Fox traced Apollo's history from the tumultuous beginnings in the 1920's through the heartbreaking decline of the mid-70's and its rebirth in the 1980's. This cultural institution led the way in defining all types of music that changed by decade moving from swing to funk. He also followed the management era when the Apollo was called other names and located at other venues until it came to rest at 125th Street in Harlem with its Jewish owners, the Schiffmans.

Ted Fox gave an excellent history lesson on the life of this musical institution known as the Apollo. This theatre exerted a lot of influence on the entertainment industry over several decades. The Apollo could make or break careers. Some of our most memorable entertainment greats can lay claim to the Apollo being the springboard for their success. Fox was brilliant in his research of past performers by including tidbits of their personal experiences to give the full spectrum of the theatre's growth and the love felt by many. For those of you interested in the makings of this phenomenon called the Apollo Theatre, please read this book. It will entertain and enlighten you. This is a wonderful book to add to your collection on music history.
Reviewed by Brenda M. Lisbon
of The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers
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