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Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Apollo Theater goes virtual for ‘Amateur Night’ auditions

The world-famous Apollo Theater is living by the credo “the show must go on.” Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the theater is keeping pace with their Amateur Night contestants by hosting their audition videos online.

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As reported by Vulture, the nation’s most famous theater for discovering Black talent has now gone virtual.

The Apollo Tribeca
Promotional image, HBO Documentary Film The Apollo

“The Apollo Amateur Night is all about access,” Kamilah Forbes, executive producer at the Apollo told Vulture. “What that’s saying is that, yes, this is a coveted space, but we want to make sure that any and everyone can get on, right? [Moving] our auditions online is one of those key ways we can lower the barrier of access.”

Producer Marion Caffey sorts the online videos via a one to five rating system but if there are any aspiring Apollo stars reading this, note that he reviews every one of those videos. And, according to Vulture, even lower-rated videos have a chance to make the show because, as he explains it,  you want to have a balance. (Basically, you want to have a few train wrecks for entertainment value.)


It’s the first time in the theater’s 86-year history of hosting auditions that they’ve not been at the theater. Evaluating videos online does give the team,  which includes Amateur Night’s coordinator Kathy Jordan Sharpton, more time to do a deeper dive on each video as contestants in-person get just over a minute.

“It takes a lot more time, but the talent really is no different,” Caffey tells Vulture. “I don’t get better talent live than I get online. It’s just that I have to look deeper and more for the online talent simply because there’s a lot more bad talent and a lot more mediocre talent and a lot more good talent.”

The Apollo has not determined when they will reopen as New York City slowly grinds back to full speed after the mandatory March 12 shutdown. They expect to lose about $4M in the fiscal year that ends this month. A virtual benefit concert “Let’s Stay (in this) Together” was held last week, which proceeds also benefitting neighborhood businesses also suffering. The Apollo is currently closed through at least June 30th.

#Let's Stay (In This) Together!

ICYMI: Tune in for the rebroadcast of LET'S STAY (IN THS) TOGETHER, a benefit to support our iconic theater. This special event features powerful performances and appearances by Dionne Warwick, Gary Clark Jr., Ledisi, Anthony Hamilton and many more. To support, please vistit

Posted by Apollo Theater on Friday, June 5, 2020

“We hope that the funds we raise will ensure long-term financial and operational stability, guaranteeing that we are around for generations to come,” Apollo president and CEO Jonolle Procope told Vulture.

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You can donate to the storied theater here.

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The post Apollo Theater goes virtual for ‘Amateur Night’ auditions appeared first on TheGrio.

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