“On Kentucky Avenue” – The Hottest Spot in Atlantic City Was not the Beach

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By: Paulanne Simmons

 

 

For many people Kentucky Avenue is a street in Monopoly that costs $220 to buy. But for tourists who came to Atlantic City during the summer months from the 1930s to the late 1980s, it was the music street on the north side of town, the center of much of the city’s nightlife. The most famous of these clubs was the Club Harlem. Known as the Black Copacabana, it featured the best of black talent at the time.

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On Kentucky Avenue, a musical review created by Jeree Wade and written by Adam Wade and Ty Stephens, celebrates Club Harlem with a score that combines original music with the songs of the time. It is performed by a group of talented singers and dancers backed by the swinging Freddie Baxter Orchestra.

There is a story of sorts, which centers on a dress rehearsal for the opening night of the 1969 season and a love triangle between the show’s MC, Ivan King (Ty Stephens) and two of the showgirls, Betty Jo (Cheryl Freeman) and Pauline (Andrika Hall). However this conflict is not developed enough to make a major contribution to the show and might easily be eliminated.

What does make this show spectacular is the many wonderful song and dance numbers, brilliantly executed on a very small stage in an intimate club. In fact On Kentucky Avenue uses all of the Triad Theater (Stage 72) space, with showgirls prancing down the aisle and on occasion interacting with members of the audience.

Highlights of the show include Jeree Wade’s tremendous rendition of “You’re Nobody, Till somebody Loves You,” Ty Stephens’s tribute to Otis Redding and whenever Jeree Wade and comedian Lee Summers, as Slappy Black, are on stage together.

Although the show is at The Triad for a limited time, the producers hope it will have a longer life at other venues. We certainly hope it will find its place in the sun.

Additional show dates include: February 26, 7pm; March 11, 8 pm; March 16, 7 pm

Triad Theater, 158 West 72nd Street, NYC   Tickets: www.Stage72.com

For more information: www.onkentuckyavenue.com

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