Wednesday, February 11, 2015

IS KINGS THEATRE BROOKLYN'S APOLLO THEATRE ?


In fact, the theater couldn't help but upstage the star. While Ross' set-list didn't include a single song created less than a quarter century ago, the surroundings have the freshest possible gleam.

The Kings theater - built in 1929, just before the Depression hit - represents one of five New York "wonder theaters," created by the Lowe’s Theater Chain. The one-time movie palaces, located around the city, are currently in various stages of refurbishment. Over the last two years, Kings has received a $95 million renovation, a move that dovetails with an upgrade of its entire, surrounding Flatbush business district.


The Kings’ newly configured 3,676 seats offer ample room, while widened aisles allow for easy flow. Though the venue's design - fashioned in the French Renaissance style - embraces the rococo, it's not nearly as wacked-out as a sister venue, Inwood’s United Palace Theater, which was revived as performing arts center 8 years ago.

The lobby of Kings soars to a height of 70 feet, while lustrous walnut panels enrich its walls. Imposing Corinthian columns punctuate the walls, lit by Art Deco chandeliers above. Nearly 4000 feet of gold and scarlet carpet shield the floors, leading to towering stairways bordered by rich red marble. Together, it sets a scene glowing with history.

Diana Ross performed her hits Tuesday night at The Kings Theatre.
MARK YOUNG
Diana Ross performed her hits Tuesday night at The Kings Theatre.
Miss Ross' performance drew on its own storied luster. The show reveled in the '70s and '80s, disco-era solo hits we've all heard thousands of times before - songs which are loved for just that reason. Of course, Ross also included many of her standards with The Supremes, a catalogue which, at this stage, tests the limits of familiarity - both hers and ours.

For most of the 90 minute performance, Ross barreled through her hits - and a few by others - as quickly, and efficiently, as possible. Throughout, she exuded the cheerful disengagement of classic Las Vegas extravaganzas. Only in her number from “Lady Sings The Blues” - the jazz-blues ballad “Don’t Explain” - did she snap entirely into the present. At that point, her vocals, which were otherwise fine enough, bumped up to show real feeling.

Then again, shows of this order surf on comfort and nostalgia, not challenge or contemporary connection. Future bookings for the hall also promise to push those elements. The coming line-up will feature artists like Gladys Knight, Crosby, Stills and Nash and the touring company of the play “Annie.” All plow straight down the middle of the road, offering nothing in the way of surprises or present-day relevance. Luckily, the theater itself provides all the special qualities a memorable night out needs.




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