*The Apollo Theater in Harlem marked its 80th anniversary Tuesday with its annual spring gala, hosted by Wayne Brady and featuring Natalie Cole, Gladys Night, The Isley Brothers, Joss Stone, Savion Glover, Human Nature, Mathew Whitaker and Doug E. Fresh among the guests.
The evening raised $2.3 million in support of the legendary theater, according to Forbes, and included once in a lifetime performances followed by a spectacular after party.
Richard Parsons received the Apollo’s Leadership Award in recognition of the integral role he has played in the revitalization of the theater since 2001, when he became Chairman of the Board.
After the performance, guests including Marcus Samuelsson, Stedman Graham, John Demsey, Mellody Hobson and George Lucas, Deborah Lee, James Dolan, Debra Shriver, Al Roker and Deborah Roberts were invited into a makeshift nightclub designed by Apollo board member Bronson Van Wyck for the occasion.
“It’s the Apollo’s 80th birthday, so we’ve reached all the way back to 1934: a delightful Harlem Renaissance take on Art Deco,” said Van Wyck. “We have tented the Harriet Tubman Playground, welcoming guests into four tents enveloped in rich colors of gold, black and malachite green.”
Buffets were served around a lacquered silver, gold and black dance floor, with mirrors hung along the sides of the tents, above the black leather booths, adding to the 30’s lounge mood.
“Funds for the Apollo allow us to continue to provide innovative performing arts programs, educational programs for young people, students and families,” said CEO and president Jonelle Procope.
The Isley Brothers’ name will be added to the walk of fame in front of the W. 125th St. theater later this year, officials said.