Home‘Avenue X’ explores integration through doo-wop

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“Avenue X” is a story of racial integration, told from the point of view of doo-wop music. Set in Brooklyn in 1963 and based on the historic clash between Italian-Americans and the black newcomers to the neighborhood, it distills the musical traditions of both sides of the street.

What happens when an Italian-American trio loses a singer and picks an African-American replacement so it can compete in a singing competition? Such an incident would mean nothing today, but back in the ’60s, it packed the potential for violence and bloodshed.

First produced off-Broadway in 1994 and arriving Wednesday at the Alliance Theatre in a newly tweaked version by composer Ray Leslee and playwright Jim Jiler, “Avenue X” predated the “American Idol” trend and the zany puppet musical “Avenue Q” by about a decade. Yet the eight-voice a cappella musical espouses some of the same ideas as these pop-culture touchstones: the youthful quest for dreams and success, the importance of multiculturalism and community-building.

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