Apollo Theater
Apollo Theater (Credit: Apollo Theater)

Calling all singers, dancers, musicians, rappers, comedians, spoken word poets and other performers: New York’s legendary Apollo Theater has moved its Amateur Night auditions online due to the coronavirus.

For the first time in the Apollo Theater’s 86-year history, Amateur Night auditions are being held online instead of in-person. Even though competitors won’t be able to rub the famed “Tree of Hope,” the Apollo is looking for top talent to bring on the show this summer and fall, the theater announced in a press release.

“Digital technology has enabled us to stay more connected than ever before, and during these uncertain times it is incredibly vital for the Apollo Theater to continue to engage with artists and audiences around the world,” Kamilah Forbes, Apollo Theater Executive Producer, said in the press release.

“We’re devastated by the loss the pandemic has had on the arts community, and we want to celebrate the talent and hard work artists have put into their craft. Amateur Night represents this, and we want to keep the spotlight shining on these talented individuals.”

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New York, which has been the hardest hit in the nation, prompted the social distancing measure to try and quell the rapid spread of the COVID-19. Most of New York’s cultural venues have temporarily shut down, as has the Apollo.

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Prior to the outbreak, the Apollo Theater had scheduled an in-person interview. That was canceled and competitors 18 years and older can now upload their less than five minutes, pre-recorded videos here.

The Apollo will later let hopefuls know if they were selected to perform on the Apollo stage later in the year. Apollo stage later this year and compete for the Grand Prize of $20,000. Those under the age of 17 can also upload their videos for a chance to compete in the Child Star of Tomorrow category and score a $5,000 prize.

Started in 1934, thousands of performers – including Ella Fitzgerald, Luther Vandross, Lauryn Hill, and H.E.R. – have graced the Apollo Theater. Amateur Night is one of the oldest and longest-running shows in New York City.