The Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment exhibition is a great way to remember how 75 years flies by in a flurry of perfect moments. The Apollo began as a burlesque hall, transformed during the Harlem Renaissance of the '20s and '30s to its ceaseless role as energizing conduit for great African-American entertainment, featuring everyone from Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr. to Duke Ellington to Redd Foxx, James Brown, Louis Armstrong and the Jackson Five. Featured artifacts: James Brown's cape and jumpsuit, Michael Jackson's fedora, Cab Calloway's baton, and tap-dancer Peg Leg Bates' peg leg (!). While It's Showtime at the Apollo! turned people around the world on to the Apollo as it melted minds through late-night television viewing (“With the outrageous fun of Amateur Night!”) during the '80s and '90s, it's no longer just for African-American entertainment; lately acts like Vivian Girls and She & Him have graced the stage, which is regularly swept of lousy acts by the theater's very own broom-armed “executioner.”

June 3-Sept. 4, 2011

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