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here is what i know. reverend ike completely restored the theater down to the last seat and the organ in the late 1960’s. it was featured in the 1970 atos convention. after that, i attended several concerts and played the organ several times. my understanding is that the organ was to be used in the production of a music video in the early 1990’s. the heat of the spotlights melted the stop tablets. to this day, the money has not been available to repair and restore the instrument. can anyone confirm or deny?
the “later” marquee was lighted with a progressive routine that was unique and difficult to describe. the lights went on…off…on…off…and then “snarled”. it was really cool. does anyone remember this?
the “closed” academy was, indeed, a rock and roll venue. kiss “warmed-up” blue oyster cult there in 1973. the american theatre organ society featured the academy’s beautiful wurlitzer in their 1970 national convention. shame on nyu for failing to recognize the value of preserving the theater and its organ and turning it into a dormitory.
i remember standing in line with my parents in the early 1960’s, in the bitter, nyc, winter cold, waiting to enter the music hall and enjoy the xmas show. i had no idea that, in an already forgotten era, such lines were common at the “premier” houses, where patrons would be entertained by small, “lobby organs” while they waited to be seated. in my case, my father would send my mother and me down to the underground concourse that connected all of rockefeller center to seek warmth while he endured the cold. once inside, i was mesmerized by the organ and its power. all i wanted was to play it. fortunately, i was afforded the chance in 1980, when i played 8 performances of the stage show “america” as a substitute at the opposite prompt (stage right) console. i was supporting my good friend, bob maidhof, who, at the time, was the head organist. as a friend of mine remarked at the time, “if you were a baseball player, this would have been your night in yankee stadium.”
with respect to all, the theater is actually in brooklyn. ridgewood is located in both queens and kings counties. the theater is south of the border (cypress avenue) despite what the post office has done over the years to completely screw the whole thing up! best reference? any 1960’s era subway map you can find. the border is drawn just below the seneca avenue stop of the myrtle avenue el. the theater is south of that and squarely in brooklyn. best to all.
oh…the poor rko madison. the exquisite rko madison. i hope my recollection will spark some enjoyable memories. i was born in ridgewood on 12 march 1954. the madison was located on myrtle avenue less than one block from the intersection of myrtle and wycoff avenues, the “crossroads” of ridgewood, where the “el” met the subway and nearly a dozen bus lines terminated. it was a “busy” place! my father and uncle operated “graif’s café”, a bar and grille located on the other side of the intersection on wycoff avenue. other theaters were clustered around the intersection as well, like the “parthenon” which, of late, had become the “parthenon lanes”. across from the madison were two, top notch restaurants, kollety’s ice cream parlor and gottlieb’s delicatessen, both of which operated well into the evening to accommodate the madison’s patrons. i have many fond memories of patronizing both with my mother and older sister (while my father was working down the street). myrtle avenue was awash with the flickering of the madison’s marquee while we enjoyed hot fudge sundaes or hot corned beef sandwiches. that theater far exceeded what was usually dedicated to a “neighborhood”. its presence elevated the intersection from a crossroads to a “mecca”. of course, at the age of 5 to 10, i had no understanding of the significance, etc., most especially the organ, which i will address tomorrow. thanx for “listening”.