This year before I turn 50, I’ve decided to do things that “I” want to do. Even though I have health issues that hinder me so much of the time, I know that life has to go on, chronic pain be damned. My pain is not going to conquer my spirit. I don’t get out too much, however when I do, I’m going to do it up BIG!. At least big in my eyes, LOL!
I saw an article about the re-opening of a movie palace that had been shuttered since 1977. Halfway down the article, I saw that Ms. Diana Ross (The Boss) was going to be the first performer at Kings Theatre in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn NY. I gasped and my heart skipped a beat for a few reasons. As a child of the 70’s, Ms. Ross was the style and fashion icon little black girls like me could look up to and aspire to be. The possibilities were endless. Her solo musical career, after she left The Supremes, was at an all time high. She was making movies and scored an Academy Award nomination, right out the gate, with her portrayal of singer Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues. She was incredible, even Michael Jackson knew she was special. Michael was the greatest performer ever, so he had to know something. I never got to see Michael perform live which I deeply regret, but Diana was still here at age 70 about to be in my city. I had to go. The tickets were a bit out of my budget, but this might be my last chance. This is my year towards 50, so I was going. When I checked the date of the show, it was on my late brother’s birthday, February 3. That solidified it– off to Ticketmaster online to get my ticket along with insurance. I was getting money back, should disaster strike. I don’t mind keeping company with myself, so I didn’t ask anyone to go with me. Remember, I’m doing me!
The Kings Theatre was built in 1929. They closed their doors when they could no longer compete with modern multiplexes and neighborhood decline. Over the years the building had been looted and suffered water damage. The restoration cost $95 million dollars and when I got there I saw why.
My ride (I get picked up and dropped off by a special service, since I can no longer get around alone on buses or subway.) got me there early. The streets were still icy and temperatures were very cold. I thought, only Diana could get me out of my house on a night like this. There were luxury buses lined up in front of the theatre ,so the driver dropped me off at the corner and the police were out in force. The driver had to tell them he was dropping off a customer and he helped me navigate the ice. I walked towards the Kings and there was a newly restored and lit up marquee. I was really here, OMG!!
I was greeted very warmly at the door and welcomed inside. At first, I felt like I was at the airport . There were tables and a scanner to check your purses, wallets, bins for cell phones and keys and an employee to scan your person. I beeped, but I was wearing my blinged out pants, so OK. You couldn’t help but look up since everything was so opulent. Gold, red, bronze colors, chandeliers, 3000 seats. lots of restrooms. Everything Spectacular! There were places to buy drinks, including alcohol and snacks on every floor and event paraphernalia on the first floor. Women were wearing furs and sequins. Men wore suits and tuxedos. People were taking pictures, everywhere. This was going to be a big night.
I got to my seat on the balcony and all I saw was beauty and an old fashioned red curtain. I took pictures and updated my Facebook status while I waited for the show to begin. The lights dimmed and her band, including a brass section, keyboards, bass, guitar, drums and percussion, along with 3 backup singers started. I heard familiar sounds, heard her singing but couldn’t see her. The sound system was great. The crowd started roaring. As I looked down, she was coming down the aisle, in a sequined teal blue outfit with matching wide open draping cape like an angel bathed in light, famous hair flowing. She was reaching out and touching folks in the crowd singing, I’m Coming Out, as she made her way to the stage. Flashes from cell phones were going off.The crowd was singing with her, everyone was out of their seats as the Diva did what Divas do, put her ALL into her performance. All of the standing up and sitting down was painful for me, but I wouldn’t have seen a thing. Everyone in front of me on the balcony was on their feet.
She sounded strong in voice as she went into a string of The Supremes songs. I Love You More Today Than Yesterday, My World Is Empty Without You, Baby Love, Stop! in the Name of Love, You Can’t Hurry Love and Love Child. She encouraged us to sing along and people were dancing too. The fans, my people, knew all the words to every song and we did not hesitate to sing along. She then, went backstage for one of four more wardrobe changes. The band and singers, continued with Love Child until she returned. She was back, exquisite in a red sequin number with a long draping red cape and started with some solo Diana songs. The Boss,( my personal favorite), Touch Me in the Morning, an extended Upside Down, (An audience member was invited up to the stage at this point and started dancing. He was amazing and got a hug from Ms. Ross, I hope he was there with some who filmed it.), Love Hangover, Take Me Higher and Ease on Down the Road. Everyone was up and she showed tremendous stamina never slowing down while belting out hit after hit.
I think she took a breath when she wanted us to sing a line or two. The laser lighting was so gorgeous all over the theatre. At this point she still had not spoken to the audience directly, but I was OK with that. She gave band members and backup singers their moments of spotlight, showing their immense talents. Then she was off for another wardrobe change. She was slinky in silver and the stage took on a blues club feel. The sax player began the well known wails of The Look of Love. The next song was Don’t Explain. She may have been getting a bit winded from the last costume change as I noticed her voice was not as strong, but she was very into the ambiance and performance. There was another change of clothing,a black and silver number. Next was the remake portion of the show- Why Do Fools Fall in Love, Do You Know Where You’re Going To (Theme from Mahogany), Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and I Will Survive. I had forgotten she remade the Gloria Gaynor hit until that moment. With a big disco ball as scenery behind her she killed the song, the voice was all the way back. She had everyone singing and bopping again. Before she did I Will Survive, She spoke to us and said that the theatre was a palace and that she felt like a Queen. She had the house lights come on and told us to take a look around.
She went backstage one more time and came out ready for her encore. The people behind me and I agreed that Ashford & Simpson’s, Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand) would be her finale, as it is her signature. She did not disappoint us, wearing a canary yellow feathered draping gown. We swayed back and forth (I was swaying just my hands, I was exhausted) as requested by our Queen for the evening. We sang and got to know the person next to us. She quickly changed again into a sparkly black number and sang I Will Survive once again. She invited her daughter Rhonda onstage and the girl can SANG! She also invited from backstage her son Evan and his new wife Ashlee and her son. They did not sing and seemed to be ready to get off the stage, but stayed while the show reached its completion. Afterwards, I sat in my seat not in a rush to leave like so many around me, but wanting to soak it all in. In this beautiful environment, I got to sing, seat dance and lean on the pillar next to me when I got up, so I could see past the folks in front of me.
On my slow walk down the many stairs, (my only complaint, but there were no elevators in the 1929 building, so there couldn’t be any in the restoration) with my cane, several employees asked if I needed assistance. I appreciated it. I had to wait to be picked up and again there was a police presence and the big luxury buses were back too. Many people were in the outer lobby waiting for cabs and I for my ride. The driver called and said he would be there in 10 minutes. No one was asked to leave even though you could tell they were almost ready to close. While I stood inside waiting because of the frigid temperatures, a lady outside tried to hijack my ride. You have to sign a form when you get in and while a police officer came inside to ask if there was anyone there with my name, the lady got in the ride and refused to tell the driver her name. When I got escorted outside by the officer, she was coming out and the driver was calling my cell phone.
Then I was on my way home. The driver wanted to know what was going on there and we talked about how this place was going to be great for Brooklyn. A new place for performers to come to and revenue for the borough. Thanks to ACE Theatrical Group and the former and present Brooklyn Borough President’s, there is an alternative to The Barclays Center. These are the upcoming shows at The Kings. A Queen performed in the Borough of Brooklyn in the County of Kings and it was amazing, incredible and all I dreamed it would be. Thank you Ms. Diana Ross for a fun-filled evening.