'The Apollo' Explores the Pop Culture Influence of the NYC Theater

Rick and Christina Gables
Courtesy of HBO

The Apollo, directed by Oscar and Emmy winner Roger Ross Williams, chronicles the legacy of New York City’s landmark Apollo Theater, covering the rich history of the storied performance space over its 85 years.

What began as a refuge for marginalized artists emerged as a hallowed hall of black excellence and empowerment.

In the film, Williams reflects on the struggle of black lives in America, the role that art plays in that struggle, and the part the Apollo Theater continues to play in the cultural conversation. The documentary debuts Wednesday, November 6 on HBO.

Bubba Knight, Edward Patten, Gladys Knight and William Guest (Photo by Gilles Petard/Redferns/Courtesy of Getty and HBO)

Weaving together archival footage of music, comedy and dance performances with behind-the-scenes verité footage of the team that makes the theater run, the film features interviews with such artists as Angela Bassett, Common, Jamie Foxx, Doug E. Fresh, Savion Glover, Patti LaBelle, Paul McCartney, Smokey Robinson, and Pharrell Williams.

Smokey Robinson / Courtesy of HBO

The Apollo has served as a launchpad for such legendary talents as Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Smokey Robinson and Ray Charles. Showcased comedians included Red Foxx, Dick Gregory, Richard Pryor, and Moms Mabley.

The Apollo, Documentary Premiere, Wednesday, November 6, 9/8c, HBO