My Night at Kings Theatre’s Grand Reopening with Diana Ross

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!!

Kings Marquee

Kings Marquee

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.

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Let Me Introduce Myself

I decided to start a blog. Why would I do that?? I have to take myself back to high school, Bishop Loughlin Memorial, 1979, when as a freshman I joined the newspaper, as an after school activity. I found out I expressed myself well and often better, when I wrote. I was basically shy and sheltered, but I felt free and happy when I wrote.

I thought I would become a journalist like Barbara Walters or write for a newspaper, like The New York Times. I had attended free workshops at Columbia University for aspiring high school journalists, and received an honorable mention award in a Catholic newspaper for catholic school high school students. I was listed in both my junior and senior years of high school in Who’s Who Among American High School Students for my journalistic endeavors. I was ready to study journalism. I was ready! Maybe I could be an entertainment reporter since I loved feature articles. I had been reading The National Enquirer and Star Magazine since I was very young. Celebrity gossip was so cool. I knew all of Liz Taylor’s business.

Even with all this momentum around me, I felt no one around me truly supported my dreams. I didn’t have the self-esteem and inner strength to be a cheerleader for myself. Oh, if we could do a rewind, the things we could change……..

I believed the negativity hype. I heard that it was harder for blacks in that industry or how someone they knew didn’t do well in the profession. Instead, I pursued less creative paths. I was a paralegal and then a librarian, but always kept journals and didn’t turn down opportunities to participate in newsletters at work. I had a knack for writing and I knew it.

I have had a lengthy period of health issues. Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, migraines, carpal tunnel and chronic pain finally took their collective toll and I could no longer work. Fibromyalgia makes it difficult for my brain to put thoughts together. Reading and writing that has always come easily, became a process of labor. It still is a struggle to get my thoughts down. This is why I decided to blog. I don’t want my gift to disappear, because of my chronic illness. I know now to fight for myself and for what I want.

I have practiced Buddhism with the SGI-USA for the past 10 years and my goal is to be happy. Nichiren Buddhism, teaches that each person has within the courage, wisdom and compassion to face and surmount any of life’s challenges. If you watched the film, What’s Love Got to Do With It, about the life of Tina Turner, starring Angela Bassett, you heard her chant -Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. We all see how Tina’s life changed when she started to chant.

So, I’m going to be happy despite the obstacles in my life. I have changed from my core, so I am brave enough to blog. I’ll write about the everyday, give insight about living with chronic illness. I’ll write about the mundane and the amusing. I’ll blog about what upsets me, enlightens me and what makes me, ME. Winning in life is what’s important no matter what. So as I blog I may face failure, criticisms and everything in between, but I believe in me and know this is the right time to write for me and to share it with others. I hope you will join me on my journey, finally fulfilling a dream.