SOULTIME AT THE APOLLO
Written and Directed by Kevin Ramsey
September 11 – November 8, 2009
More information about the play:
Playwright and director Kevin Ramsey returns
to The Rep this season with his newest production, SOULTIME AT THE
APOLLO. Having just created FIRE ON THE BAYOU: A MARDI GRAS MUSICAL
EXTRAVAGANZA for the 2008/09 Rep season, we are grateful to have
yet another of Kevin’s music-filled, historical portraits come
to life on our stage and inspire our patrons to once again get up
I spoke to Kevin recently, on the heels of his busy production schedule.
Sharon Pomaville: Kevin, I was so happy to see
that you were directing another production at The Rep this season.
It’s good to have you back with us once again. Tell me about
SOULTIME AT THE APOLLO.
Kevin Ramsey: SOULTIME celebrates the legacy of
the Apollo Theater, commemorating its 75th anniversary this year.
The first show I co-wrote and directed at The Rep, IF THESE SHOES
COULD TALK, was in 1993, starring the legendary Harold Nicholas.
It was also Joseph Hanreddy’s first season as Artistic Director
for The Rep. The irony is, this is Joe’s last season with MRT
and somehow we’re back at the Apollo. IF THESE SHOES COULD
TALK took place at a shoe shine stand in front of the Apollo, and
SOULTIME takes place in the basement of the Apollo, chronicling the
memory of an old stagehand called Soultime. The Apollo is a cultural
icon, and I have been fascinated by how much music was created there
that has influenced the American landscape both musically and culturally
over a span of 75 years.
Audiences will be taken on a great journey through the musical annals
of the Apollo Theater – ranging from doo-wop, jazz, soul, gospel,
R&B and everything in between – every decade ushering in
new music inspired by what was happening in America at that time.
We may be aware of the notables – Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington,
Sarah Vaughn, Cab Calloway, James Brown, Sam Cooke – those
that crossed over into the mainstream. But there were hundreds who
became big stars only within the Harlem community. Here was a place
where you could go on Wednesday nights for an Amateur Talent Show – I
guess the original American Idol. You signed up weeks in advance,
and either you succeeded or failed terribly. The Apollo tested the
strengths of any human being: if you could play the Apollo, you could
truly play anywhere. If there wasn’t such a thing called segregation,
the Apollo might never have existed. But what a price to pay!
SP: What do you hope your audience will experience
and take home?
KR: To know that they are a part of this tapestry
that is so Americana, with the music swimming and swarming in their
heads. I feel it is so important to honor those that have come before,
because we all stand on somebody’s shoulders in a way, with
a handing off of various torches from generation to generation. I
think one of my biggest thrills with BAYOU was at the top of the
second act, where people actually got up and danced! I find that
extremely liberating, not only for me, but for the audience to have
that kind of freedom, that kind of theatrical experience, that dialogue
with the actors.
SP: What’s next for your hopes and dreams
for yourself and this beautiful world we all share?
KR: Artistic and financial freedom. My dream is
to continue to be inspired to write about humanity, whether in theater,
film or television and to bring my work to audiences globally. I
have so many dreams of wanting to use my art to help, to heal, to
encourage, to educate and to learn, but most importantly to provoke
At the end of the day, I’m so blessed to be able to do what
I do, and love what I do. Once again, my heartfelt gratitude to Joe
Hanreddy, Sandy Ernst, The Rep’s staff and wonderful audiences.
Who would have thunk, coming from New Orleans and spending many years
on the East Coast, that out of all the places in the world, the place
that would give me so much inspiration would be Milwaukee? It gets
very cold and I hate the cold. I must really want to be here!
Sharon Pomaville, Music and Art Journalist
Sharon is a not-for-profit fundraiser, event producer and blues
SOULTIME AT THE APOLLO
Written and Directed
by Kevin Ramsey
Previews: September 11
September 12 – November 8, 2009
Tickets: $30.00 – $45.00
STACKNER CABARET DINING
The Stackner Cabaret features some of the best musical entertainment
in Wisconsin and also is a full service restaurant with a delightful
menu in a unique theater setting. It’s the perfect place
to meet before you see a show in the Cabaret, Quadracci Powerhouse
Theater or Stiemke Theater, or stop up afterwards to enjoy dessert
and drinks – you never know which Rep actor you might see!
The smoke-free Stackner Cabaret is open to the public before and
after all evening Rep performances and is located just up the escalator
in The Milwaukee Center.
If you plan to dine in the Stackner Cabaret before seeing a Rep
production, dinner reservations are strongly recommended. Please
be aware that if you have tickets to a performance in the Cabaret,
it does not automatically include dinner reservations. To make dinner
reservations for the Cabaret, please call The Rep’s Ticket
Office at 414-224-9490. To view
the Cabaret menu click here: milwaukeerep.com/pdf/menu.pdf.