The Apollo Unveils Expansion To Harlem’s Victoria Theater


Harlem’s The Apollo Theater continued celebrating Black history and their 90th anniversary with the grand opening of The Apollo Stages at the Victoria Theater – marking the monument’s first physical expansion ever in a bid to offer an array of new opportunities for Black artists and creatives.

A mainstay on the renowned 125th Street – the very heart and soul of Harlem – the Apollo Theater has often found itself the epicenter of notable moments in Black culture. And with the addition of two theaters just a few doors down from the iconic locale, The Apollo looks to usher in “a new era,” President and CEO Michelle Ebanks said at the March 7 event.

The Apollo Unveils Expansion To Harlem’s Victoria Theater

“We are excited to strengthen our support to artists and organizations in Harlem and across New York while expanding our mission to amplify Black voices and opportunities for the next generation of creatives of color,” Ebanks added as many noted that the grand undertaking took nearly two decades to complete.

Included in the celebration was a special sign lighting ceremony that featured an appearance by New York City Mayor Eric Adams – who signaled his support for The Apollo to become the mecca of Black AI.

Nia Drummond – an acclaimed singer who went viral after her rendition of Happy Birthday brought Busta Rhymes to tears – opened the festivities with a powerful performance of Sweet Sweet Spirit that shook the entire theater to its core. Four-time Grammy-nominated vibraphonist Stefon Harris followed suit and brought even more life to the party with his own showing.

The Apollo Unveils Expansion To Harlem’s Victoria Theater
The Apollo Unveils Expansion To Harlem’s Victoria Theater

Outside on 125th street, the Marching Cobras marching band offered a treat performance for tourists and locals, making their way down the busy street.

Designed by renowned architect Thomas W. Lamb in 1917, Lowe’s Victoria Theater was initially opened in 1918 as a vaudeville house before closing its doors in the early 20th century. A number of elements from the historic theater can still be seen when visitors make their way inside: the original terracotta facade showing the bright lights of the Victoria Theater; an intricate, grand staircase in the lobby shared by the Marriott Renaissance Hotel and the new Apollo grounds; and detailed tile floors and marquee still implemented in the design of the grounds. 

The Apollo’s Laura and Frank Baker Gallery greeted visitors before they made their way upstairs to the third and fourth floors, where most of the facilities exist.

The Apollo Unveils Expansion To Harlem’s Victoria Theater

Theater one seats 199 guests in a 4,125 sq. ft space. The black box theater includes retractable seating and flexible staging, making it the ideal location for programs and performances.

The Janelle Procope Theater – named after The Apollo’s former president who served for two decades in her role – is a tad smaller (only 99 seats) and serves educational programming needs with features including mesh safety netting for work on the grid. 

In addition to the two theaters, the facilities also feature new office space to be used by Apollo staff, artist collaborators, and visiting artists.

“The Apollo Stages at The Victoria Theater has been a grand undertaking, spanning two generations of leadership,”  said Charles E. Phillips, The Apollo’s Chairman of the Board.“

The Apollo Unveils Expansion To Harlem’s Victoria Theater

“Envisioned by Apollo’s former President Jonelle Procope and brought to life by Michelle Ebanks, this new space reinforces and reintroduces The Apollo as the paradigm of Black creativity to a new generation.”

The Apollo Stages at The Victoria Theater is slated for a Summer 2024 opening. You can check out the Apollo’s schedule here.


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