Harlem Song had its first performance at the Apollo July 8 after a slight delay due to technical problems. The show opened Aug. 4 to good reviews, but Harlem Song struggled to find an audience. The first weeks of November were iffy for the production, which posted a provisional closing notice and waited to see what the response from the community and theatre-goers would be.
The response, which included sold-out shows and a gift from the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, saved the show. Harlem Song then promised to run to the end of the year.
Tony nominee BJ Crosby (Smokey Joe's Cafe) and solo performer Queen Esther lead the company of Harlem Song. Also in the cast are Rosa Arredono, Renee Monique Brown, Gabriel Croom, Rosa Curry (The Rocky Horror Show, Chicago), Randy Andre Davis (Peter Pan), Delandis McClam, Sinclair Mitchell, Zoie Morris (Ragtime, The Scarlet Pimpernel), Dana Shavonne Rainey, Stacey Sargeant, David St. Louis (Jesus Christ Superstar), Keith Lamelle Thomas (Swing!) and Charles E. Wallace (Miss Saigon).
Harlem Song revisits and transforms the great songs that have come out of the neighborhood's vibrant musical community, including jazz standards, rap and R & B hits. Using projections and photographs, the musical re-creates life in Harlem from the Jazz Age and the Harlem Renaissance to the area's current spirit of urban renewal and economic rebirth.
The musical also spawned an original cast recording, released on the Legacy label from Columbia. The disc features 24 numbers from the show, including: "Here Comes My Daddy Now," "Late One Night," "Well Alright Then," "Drop Me Off in Harlem," "Tarzan of Harlem," "Shakin' the Africann Intro," "Shakin' the Africann," "For Sale Intro," "For Sale," "Drop Me Off in Harlem (Reprise)," "Doin' the Niggerati Rag," "Coge El A Train (Take the A Train)," "Depression Chant," "The Hungry Blues," "Miss Linda Brown," "Here You Come With Love," "King Joe," "Fable of Rage in the Key of Jive," "Uptown Jazzmen," "Dream Deferred Intro," "Dream Deferred," "Shake," "Tree of Life" and "One Word." The recording preserves original tunes by Zane Mark and Daryl Waters, alongside re-imagined classics by Duke Ellington, Jimmie Lunceford, Woody Herman and Sam Cooke and the words of Langston Hughes and Richard Wright. Monologues delivered by Queen Ester in the persona of Miss Nightingale are also included on the recording, smoothing the transition between songs and lending historical and sometimes humorous weight to the songs.
For further information and tickets, call (212) 307-7171 or visit Harlem Song on the web at http://www.harlemsong.com.