James Brown: Get On the Good Foot and Chez Lucienne

James Brown performed two hundred times at the Apollo Theatre and when he died, his body lay in state on its stage. It’s only fitting that James Brown: Get on the Good Foot premiered here. The Rev. Al Sharpton, who knew James Brown, introducing the show said classical music is all about “the four B’s”: Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, and Brown.

A huge dance company and various choreographers give expression to every facet of James Brown, from the romantic, to the political, to the humorous.  “I Got You (I Feel Good)” is a dance party in platform shoes, bell bottoms, and big afros. It’s absolutely delightful. One of the dancers portrays a sharply-dressed geezer on a cane, carrying and drinking from a “big cup”— something Mayor Bloomberg has tried to ban. 

“It’s a Man’s World” was so unexpected danced by a white, female, hip-hop artist, Ephrat Asherie. The political James Brown was there in another strong dance, choreographed by Abdel Salaam, to "Payback," which segued into "Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud."

Few of the dances used James Brown dance steps as he danced them. Balletic twirls and lifts are substituted when we would sometimes rather be watching a man in a bespoke suit. Considering how many strippers have performed to James Brown, it might not be inappropriate to have one dance kind of like that. Yet, if James Brown: On the Good Foot were to travel the country, the Tea Party would probably be converted to the notion of democracy.

It is doubtful that any theatre would have the impact and impressive acoustics that the Apollo has. Entering the Apollo beneath the brilliant marquee, to the sound of James Brown’s music, the audience was dancing in the aisles and in their seats. The Apollo has announced that there will be many more commemorative solo shows about musicians in its amazing history that transformed the world.   

Chez Lucienne vol-au-vent (or chicken pot pie)
Are we in Harlem – or are we in Paris? Bistro Chez Lucienne’s menus are really French: croque monsieur on the prix fixe lunch and croque madame for brunch. Mussels and frittes are served three ways. Vol-au-vent in wine sauce (pictured) is as tasty as it looks. It’s a well-managed restaurant with first-rate French chefs creating classic dishes. The owner named the restaurant after his mother in France. On Friday and Saturday if you order between midnight and 2 a.m. there’s 50% off. Jazz and R&B greats are regulars. Wearing G-clef earrings, Bobbi Humphrey was there when we were one evening.