The Paul Robeson Theatre, formerly St. Casimir’s Roman Catholic Church, at 40 Greene Avenue near Carlton in Fort Greene in Brooklyn, has been newly given Landmarks status. It’s a small, compact midblock building converted to a theatre by Robeson Theatre head Dr. Josephine English in 1980. The theatre houses local community productions and events — however the interior is in need of repair and renovations.
Paul Robeson, who popularized “Ol’ Man River” from the Kern/Hammerstein musical Show Boat, was a Rutgers football star and Columbia-educated lawyer whose charismatic presence would have propelled him to the top of any entertainment medium not hobbled by racism. In Robeson’s powerful bass-baritone voice you can hear not just mourning for the black underclass but also a brilliant man’s anger at being deprived of his fair measure of roles.