The Apollo Theater's Past, Present and Future

Steve Adubato goes one-on-one with the Executive Producer of the famed Apollo Theater, Kamilah Forbes, who talks about the theater's past, present and future as a cultural beacon on the world stage.

1/25/18 #2106






"Hi, I'm Steve Adubato. Welcome to One on One. We're here at the WNET, the Tisch... Tisch WNET Studio... I can get that. I just had an Oreo cookie. I'll admit that. Alright. That's what's going on. [laughter] But more importantly we have Kamilah, Kamilah Forbes, who is Executive Producer of the Apollo Theater, originally from beautiful Chicago, Illinois? That's right. And now you're here. Tell folks what's going on at the Apollo, and why it's so important. Well there's a lot going on at the Apollo. You know, a lot of people don't realize that we're more than just a historic institution. We are a living, breathing performing arts center that's vibrant, that has programming going on all throughout the year, a multidisciplinary program, a high quality program, and a program that really says something, right? And that's really kind of what we're... been focused on, particularly this past season. This past season we've been focused on, you know, focusing on issues that say something about the world around us, and also speaking to a younger generation. For example? For example, our season opened up with a piece called We Shall Not Be Moved, which was an opera, ironically so, at the Apollo, with some dynamic creators. Bill T. Jones was the director/choreographer, the librettist was Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and the composer was Daniel Bernard Roumain, but it was an opera about, that was inspired by the events of the 1985 bombing that happened in Philadelphia... That's right. ...around the MOVE organization. And so they kind of took that moment of inspiration and refashioned it in a contemporary context. Do you mind if we see a clip from it? Absolutely. It's called again? And it's called We Shall Not Be Moved. And we're gonna see a clip right now. [Singing] Who was that young man? That's John Holiday. And he... What a voice! He is such a dynamic star. Passionate singer, passionate performer. You know, the Apollo, people think they know, right? Yeah. They think... Because they've seen some things on television, they've seen the rock, you know... They've seen the rock, they've seen Amateur Night, right? Which still runs today. It does? Since 1935, every single Wednesday at 7:30 is Amateur Night. Describe for folks what happens that night. So what happens that night, it is a... it is an American Idol like you've never seen, right? Like real? It is... it is the original, you know, competition show. It's the original competition show that's been happening since 1935, and we've got folks not just from New York City, but folks who fly in internationally, to compete on the Apollo stage. Repeat folks coming from Japan, a lot of folks from Asia, from Europe, from the..."