Amateur Night at the Apollo Goes Digital

By Jeff Mays on March 1, 2012 6:34pm 

Finalist Darryl Jordan, a Harlem local who sung a ballad about how "This time we'll take it slow" as part of his performance.
Finalist Darryl Jordan, a Harlem local who sung a ballad about how "This time we'll take it slow" as part of his performance.
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DNAinfo/Wim Weymans

HARLEM — Contestants at the Apollo Theater's Amateur Night competition no longer have to worry about being booed by just the legendarily tough audience.

Now, Amateur Night aficionados around the world can express themselves through their phones with the launch of Amateur Night Digital. The new iPhone and Android application allows fans around the world to vote for— or against— and track their favorite performers.

"They can make their cheers and boos heard around the world and they can provide their expert commentary," said Dexter Upshaw, digital media manager for the Apollo Theater.

The 78-year-old talent competition has helped to launch the careers of performers ranging from Ella Fitzgerald and Stevie Wonder to Lauryn Hill. Contestants perform in front of the Apollo's 125th Street audience at their own risk.

If they're good, they are rewarded with cheers. But if the audience is not happy, performers face not only a chorus of boos but a visit from the "Executioner," C.P. Lacey.

Apollo CEO Jonelle Procope said the digital initiative allows the historic theater to "share the Apollo experience with an even broader audience in New York and around the world."

Users of the application will have access to live performances and even behind-the-scenes material from Amateur Night. There will be forums that members of the live audience or those watching online can access to comment about performers.

"We have always been innovative about allowing the audience to decide," said Upshaw. "The brand is global, so whether they are in the theater or in Japan they are able to experience Amateur Night."

Digital viewers of Amateur Night will get to vote on a candidate of their choice through the "Remix Round." A candidate who didn't win but who also didn't get yanked off the stage by the "Executioner," will be invited back to the competition later in the season.

"Some people may come to Amateur Night once in a lifetime, but they still want to follow the show and be a part of the experience," said Upshaw. "Ultimately it's about the conversation between the audience and the performers on the stage."

The audience at the Apollo sung "Love Train" to kick off the show.
The audience at the Apollo sung "Love Train" to kick off the show.
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DNAinfo/Wim Weymans

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