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Diana Ross wows at Kings Theatre reopening, but venue steals the show

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Photo gallery

1/10
THE BIG NIGHT: The refurbished marquee outside the Kings Theatre advertises Tuesday night’s show, which was 38 years in the making.
2/10
TAKE IT ALL IN: A show-goer memorializes the moment with her trusty phone.
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ON THE RED CARPET: Straight from the Las Vegas Strip, drag performer Frank Marino, who sometimes takes the stage as Diana Ross, made it to the show.
4/10
REALITY BITES: Metal detectors at the lobby entrance created a bottleneck, and offered concert attendees a reminder that, for all the restoration, this isn’t the Metropolitan Opera House.
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LIGHTS ON: Former borough president Marty Markowitz, right, and his wife Jamie bask in the glow of the theater the politico pushed to get restored.
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STEPPING IT UP: From left, Brenda Nixon, Jeanette Butler, Debra Summers, and Ronald Summers sip drinks and chat as they make their way towards the auditorium.
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IT’S CURTAINS: This view of the stage was the best our photographer could get, as Diana Ross banned professional picture-taking during her performance. (That didn’t stop the crowd’s many camera-phone owners from snapping away.)
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RIGHT THIS WAY: In his first night on the job, usher Dayen Fleurant shows guests to their seats.
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Blue: Diana Ross fans herself as her saxaphonist lets off a scorching solo.
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Lady in red: Ross croons to a sold-out crowd at the Kings Theatre on Tuesday night.

Diana Ross probably isn’t used to being the opening act.

The soul legend captivated a sold-out crowd at the grand reopening of the Kings Theatre in Flatbush on Tuesday night, but the main attraction was the majestic and painstakingly restored venue.

“The is the way theaters looked when we were young,” said Debra Summers, who came from Queens for the show. “It’s so nice to see when they restore them.”

Okay, so the 3,000 people who coughed up upwards of $100 and lined up around the block to see the septuagenarian sensation are probably fans.

Summers’s husband Ronald, who grew up in Brownsville and Boerum Hill, certainly is.

“The number one reason I’m here is Diana Ross,” he said.

Metal detectors formed a bottleneck at the lobby entrance, and offered a sobering reminder that gunfire still breaks out occasionally on the nearby blocks of Flatbush Avenue that are crammed with takeout restaurants and clothing stores. But from there, it was all glamor.

Show-goers walking through the lobby of the Flatbush Avenue venue for the first time were agog as they took in the high, ornamental ceilings and dramatic red drapes, all carefully made to appear as they did when the theater opened in 1929. One new feature of the revamped theater was the more-spacious seats, but no one was sitting down for Ross — she had the whole crowd on its feet within seconds of her grand entrance, striding down the aisle, belting out “I’m Coming Out.” Some fans surged down the aisle after her to dance in front of the stage, and the rest stayed standing and clapping.

Between a dizzying succession of costume changes, Ross delivered a set of hits from her solo career, and more by the Supremes, the legendary Motown trio she led for more than a decade. And, in true diva fashion, she banned professional photography from the show, so that the only record of the night would be blurry Instagram photos, and shots provided by her publicist.

Local mom-and-pop businesses worry that putting Flatbush on the map in such a big way will drive commercial rents through the roof, but one longtime Flatbush resident took the optimistic view.

“This is a gold mine for Flatbush Avenue,” said Maxi Eugene, who has lived in the area for four decades and is brother to local Councilman Mathieu Eugene. “Just look at how many people are here.”

Ross is the first act of a 2015 schedule packed with bold-faced names, including Gladys Knight, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and the Moscow Ballet.

“We’ve got a lot of footprints coming here from all over the city,” Flatbush Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte said. “We are really experiencing an explosion and enhancement of performing arts in Flatbush.”

The concert was the first big show at the palatial venue since it closed as a movie theater in 1977. Efforts to restore the Versailles-inspired treasure gained steam under former borough president Marty Markowitz, who went on his first date at the theater back in 1961. But the renovations didn’t begin until 2013, Markowitz’s last year in office, and only wrapped last month. Markowitz, who now works as an outer-borough tourism czar for the city, was among the host of local politicos who were visibly wowed by the theater’s reopening.

Also one of the loudest supporters of building Barclays Center and the still-in-progress Atlantic Yards mega-development, Markowitz said the heavy lifting he started as Beep is now done, by and large.

“The goal of the Kings Theatre has become a reality just like with the arena,” he said. “Basically all of my major projects have now come to fruition.”

Markowitz didn’t mention his bid to bring a casino to Coney Island or a soccer team to Brooklyn.

The theater is hosting a free walk-through on Saturday afternoon.

Community walk-through at the Kings Theatre (1027 Flatbush Ave. between Duryea Place and Tilden Avenue in Flatbush, www.kingstheatre.com). Feb. 7, noon to 4 pm.

#dianaross #kingtheatre #flatbush crappy pic, fantastic performance, phenomenal venue.

A photo posted by lisa witler (@li5aluna) on

The legend. #dianaross #kingstheatre #grandreopening

A photo posted by Kathryn Lurie (@kathrynlurie) on

Lady in red. #dianaross @david_boots #kingstheatre

A photo posted by Mark Holcomb (@markholcomb) on

Do you know where you're goin' to? Amazing evening. Thanks to @markholcomb! #dianaross

A photo posted by David Thielebeule (@david_boots) on

Yassssssss Ms. Ross!!!!! #DianaRoss #kingstheatre

A video posted by Dominique (@xodomosworld) on

Damn! #DianaRoss #diva #KingsTheatre #Brooklyn

A photo posted by roseott (@roseott) on

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at nhurowitz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Quotes from Marty Markowitz added.
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Reasonable discourse

John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Pardon me, but I have to say that I fail to see the humor in the above posting, and I would appreciate it deeply if it was erased from this message board.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation.
John Wasserman.
Feb. 4, 2015, 3:26 pm
Ted from Brooklyn says:
Diana Ross is still alive?

Wow.
Feb. 4, 2015, 3:46 pm
ty from pps says:
i thought that was Michael Jackson - Elvis Presley's son-in-law.
Feb. 4, 2015, 5:56 pm
kelly from park slope says:
what are you talking about?? Diana Ross was great! She's still got it.
Feb. 4, 2015, 9:16 pm

Comments closed.

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