The eighth-grade quartet Art of Play won’t have to choose between hometown glory and the Big Apple after all.
Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater has pushed back the band’s next competition there so the boys can compete in Morristown’s Got Talent! on Feb. 29.
Art of Play won its first round in the Apollo’s $10,000 amateur night contest last week–advancing to a second round that was scheduled for the same night as the Morristown show. Tanya Webber, mom of keyboard player Ricky Webber, said the Apollo agreed on Tuesday to postpone the return engagement until May 9.
“I was really happy and relieved,” said guitarist Domenico Randazzo, who enjoyed playing at the Apollo yet did not wish to abandon hometown fans at MGT.
“We wanted to play there again. We were confident playing in that environment,” he said of the Apollo. But if push came to shove? “You gotta establish your fan base before you branch out.”
The Apollo stage helped launch careers of Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson…and Whitney Houston, the Newark sensation who died last weekend at age 48.
A music video of Whitney recorded at the Apollo now strikes Domenico as “kind of creepy, kind of weird.”
The band experienced a few butterflies before last week’s show, he said, but “once we got onstage, it clicked.
“To tell you the truth, it was all just a blur. I went out there and tried to get the crowd involved, too, so they would vote for us later.”
Domenico, Ricky and T.J. Coon–classmates at Frelinghuysen Middle School in Morris Township–and their drummer Tyler Volk of the Randolph Middle School will be vying with 15 other finalists for the $1,000 top prize at Morristown’s Got Talent!
At Morristown’s Mayo Performing Arts Center this month, Art of Play plans to push the envelope with a five-minute medley of Come Together by the Beatles, Oh My Gosh by Usher and Lose Yourself by Eminem. Domenico, who drums in his school jazz band, will trade his guitar for drums midway through the medley so Tyler can take center stage.
That’s a lot of moving parts.
“It’s really risky,” Domenico acknowledged. “But that’s part of our gimmick. We try to show that we’re versatile, and can do different things at different times. That adds to our show. It’s going to be our X-factor.”