Join the Club: Musical brings Club Harlem’s glitz and glam to Brooklyn

Ladies in red: Showgirls sing and dance in the musical “On Kentucky Avenue,” playing at Kingsborough Community College on Nov. 12.
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Harlem comes to Brooklyn — by way of Atlantic City!

A musical stage play will bring sexy showgirls, singing, dancing, and classic jazz tunes music to Kingsborough Community College on Nov. 12. “On Kentucky Avenue” will recreate the glitzy atmosphere of Club Harlem, a famous club that opened on Kentucky Avenue in Atlantic City in 1935. The play will invite viewers to time travel through the club’s heyday from the 1940s to the 1960s, says an organizer.

“This is a musical about Club Harlem and the performers who performed there — a full scale musical about a nightclub at a specific time,” said Anna Becker, executive director of the On Stage at Kingsborough event series. “People will feel like they’re in Club Harlem. They will be singing numbers that you would have heard at that club, and songs that everyone would know.”

But between the musical numbers and comic acts, the show will also offer a backstage glimpse at the lives of classic black jazz singers. That story gives the show a narrative heft that a simple recreation cannot match, said Becker.

“What sets this apart from other tribute shows is the really a dramatic structure that holds it together,” she said. “We’re seeing a backstage story. In many scenes the performers are backstage before they go on, talking about a problem at the club. And there’s a love story.”

“On Kentucky Avenue” follows 14 fictional characters, some of them modeled on Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington, who each graced the stage at Club Harlem. The 10 singers, one comedian, and a trio of pianist, drummer, and bassist, will perform famous nightclub acts from throughout the club’s history. During the 90-minute show, viewers will see the performances, and the romances and fights that happen backstage and in the audience.

The show, part of the On Stage at Kingsborough series, will give Southern Brooklynites a rare chance to see a thrilling theater experience up close and in their own neighborhood, said Becker.

“Seeing this in an intimate setting and up close with major performers — they will feel like they just saw something in its highest quality of art form,” she said.

“On Kentucky Avenue” at Kingsborough Community College [2001 Oriental Blvd. at Oxford Street in Manhattan Beach, (718) 368–5596,]. Nov. 12 at 8 pm. $32.

Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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