Amateur Night goes to London: A Transatlantic talent competition featuring aspiring artists from the US and UK

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The Apollo Theater and London’s Hackney Empire present Hackney vs. Harlem, a Transatlantic Talent Competition featuring aspiring artists from the US and UK

US Competitors to Perform in “Amateur Night: Apollo Goes to London Semi-finals” on Wednesday, May 23

Auditions at the Apollo Saturday, March 31and Sunday, April 1 10:00am – 6:00pm


HARLEM, NY – The Apollo Theater announced a new partnership with London’s Hackney Empire for a transatlantic Amateur Night competition set to coincide with the 2012 Summer Olympics. This partnership will give up-and-coming vocalists the opportunity to compete on the legendary Apollo stage and bring a taste of Harlem to London’s Hackney Empire.

On Saturday, March 31 and Sunday, April 1 the world-famous Apollo Theater will hold auditions for “Amateur Night Goes to London.”  Top performers will move on to compete in “Apollo Amateur Night: Apollo Goes to London Semifinals” on Wednesday, May 23. Winners of this Amateur Night will receive an all expense paid trip to London to represent the Apollo Theater at “Live at the Empire & Apollo Amateur Night: Hackney vs. Harlem” on July 14, 2012.

On Sunday, June 8 the Hackney Empire hosts Live at the Empire, the live London qualifying rounds for “Live at the Empire & Apollo Amateur Night: Hackney vs. Harlem,” with special guest performers and judges including the winner of Amateur Night at the Apollo, 2010, Ayanna Witter Johnson. Live at the Empire is the latest in a long history of shows aimed at discovering talent including, “291” and “New Act of the Year,” which have launched the careers of stars including Eddie Izzard, Alistair McGowan, Gina Yashere, Paloma Faith and Leona Lewis, to name a few.

Since its inception in 1934, Amateur Night has been one of New York City’s most popular live entertainment experiences, launching the careers of thousands of performers and attracting audiences from all over the world. The Apollo Theater’s Amateur Night has long been revered by artists as a transformative experience where up-and-coming talent feels the power of the legendary performers who have come before them, and where audience response can help make or break a career. This partnership will bring the Apollo Amateur Night experience to London.

Harlem vs. Hackney Schedule of Events:

  • Apollo Theater auditions to be held at the Apollo Saturday, March 31and Sunday April 1 from 10:00 am-3:00pm; producer call backs from 3:00pm-6:00pm. Contestants should be prepared to stay from 10:00am-6:00pm on both days.
  • Top talents selected at the auditions vie for a spot in the London competition at “Apollo Amateur Night: Apollo Goes to London Semifinals” on Wednesday, May 23 at 7:30pm at the Apollo.
  • Live at the Empire, the live London qualifying rounds for “Live at the Empire & Apollo Amateur Night: Hackney vs. Harlem,” will be held at the Hackney Empire on Sunday, June 8.
  • Grand Finale Talent Competition in London to take place on Saturday, July 14.
  • Amateur Night at the Apollo on September 19 will feature the winners of the Grand Finale Talent Competition as guest artists.


Fan Travel Package

Amateur Night fans are invited to join the Apollo in London for the Apollo’s Amateur Night Fan London Tour. Individual and group packages are available for fans to experience Amateur Night’s London debut. The Apollo Amateur Night Fan London Package will include roundtrip transportation from New York City to London, England, roundtrip transfers to and from the airport, Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour of London, 3+ Star hotel accommodations, and optional add-on tour packages and special events.

For more information, email or call 800-381-1580.

Tickets and Information

Tickets for Amateur Night begin at $19 and are available at the Apollo Theater Box Office: (212) 531-5305, 253 West 125th Street and from Ticketmaster at (212) 307-7171 or Amateur Night’s 2011 Season runs through October 2012 on Wednesday nights at 7:30pm. Tickets for Amateur Night Goes to London are included in the Apollo Amateur Night Fan London Tour Package.

About Amateur Night 

Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, the Apollo Theater has played a major role in the emergence of innovative musical genres including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul and hip-hop.  From its notoriously tough audience to the magic of the Tree of Hope, the Apollo Amateur Night story is the stuff that legends are made of – literally. Amateur Night has been the launching pad for some of the world’s greatest artists including Stevie Wonder, The Jackson Five and Lauryn Hill. Long before Ted Mack and the Amateur Hour and American Idol, Apollo Amateur Night was, and continues to be, a primary source for discovering new talent and spotlighting up-and-coming artists, all hoping that the hallowed stage and the approval of the Apollo audience will launch their careers in the entertainment world.

About the Apollo Theater

The Apollo is a national treasure that has had significant impact on the development of American culture and its popularity around the world.  Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, the Apollo Theater has played a major role in cultivating artists and in the emergence of innovative musical genres including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul, and hip-hop.  Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis, Jr., James Brown, Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, and countless others began their road to stardom on the Apollo’s stage. The Apollo Theater’s new artistic vision builds on its legacy.  New Apollo programming has music as its core, driving large scale and more intimate music, dance and theater presentations.  The Apollo will continue to present historically relevant presentations, as well as more forward-looking, contemporary work. Based on its cultural significance and architecture, the Apollo Theater received state and city landmark designation in 1983 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For more information, visit

About Hackney Empire

‘The most beautiful theatre in London” -The Guardian (UK)

Built in 1901 by legendary architect Frank Matcham, Hackney Empire has been providing quality entertainment for 110 years making it one of London’s oldest and finest Victorian theatres. Since the turn of the last century, many global stars have graced the stage including Charlie Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy, Houdini, Coleridge Taylor, Louis Armstrong and Cliff Richard to name a few. Now it welcomes over 140,000 people a year to its glittering programme of musicals, family shows, gigs, opera and off course the world-renowned pantomime. Situated in the heart of London’s East End, the artists who play the Hackney Empire and its audiences reflect the diversity of the global population of London. The Hackney Empire has a longstanding history of promoting African American and British artists including The Jubilee Singers in the 1900s, Louis Armstrong and Dionne Warwick, Nona Hendrix and Denise Williams. Hackney Empire also runs regular participatory activity for the local community and young people, including workshops; a community choir, talent competitions and much more. For more information or to get involved visit the website

Amateur Night at the Apollo is sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company.

The Apollo’s annual season is made possible by lead support from The Coca-Cola Company, The Parsons Family Foundation, the Ronald O. Perelman Family Foundation, the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, Reginald Van Lee New Works Fund, the Ford Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the Neuberger Berman Foundation.

Lead annual support is also provided by public funds from the City of New York Theater Sub-district Council; with additional funding from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; and the New York State Council for the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

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