- Theatre in Detroit
Theatre in Detroit discusses performing arts in the city, its history, and its venues. With more than a dozen performing arts venues, the city's theatre district ranks as the second largest in the United States after Manhattan's Broadway, the stages and old time film palaces are generally located along Woodward Avenue, the city's thoroughfare, between the downtown and New Center area. Some additional venues are located in neighborhood areas of the city.
Detroit has a long theatrical history, with many venues dating back to the 1920s. The Detroit Fox Theatre (1928) was the first theater ever constructed with built-in film sound equipment. Commissioned by William Fox and built by architect C. Howard Crane, the ornate Detroit Fox was fully restored in 1988. It is the largest of the nation's Fox Theatres with 5,045 seats. The city has been a place for operatic, symphonic, musical and popular acts since the first part of the twentieth century. Portions of Leonard Bernstein's music for West Side Story, produced by Detroit's Nederlander Organization, were composed on the piano that resides in the library at Cranbrook in the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills. David T. Nederlander's career began after purchasing a 99 year lease on the Detroit Opera House. His son, the organization's chairman, James M. Nederlander, also a Detroit native, coproduced over one hundred famous theatrical classics, including West Side Story, Hello, Dolly!, The King and I, and Fiddler on the Roof. Today, the Nederlander Organization operates Detroit's Fisher Theatre, the Detroit Opera House, and several theatres in other major cities on the Broadway theatre circuit. Organizations such as the Mosiac Youth Theatre support the city's theatre community.
During the late 1980s the great old motion picture screens and live performance stages began to be restored. The Fox Theatre, Detroit Opera House (formerly the Grand Circus Theatre; Broadway Capitol Theatre; Paramount Theatre; Capital Theatre), and The Fillmore Detroit (formerly the State Theater; Palms Theater) are notable restorations. The Fillmore Detroit is the site of the annual Detroit Music Awards held in April. Other venues were modernized and expanded such as Orchestra Hall, the home of the world renowned Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Next to the Detroit Opera House is the restored 1,700-seat Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts (1928) at 350 Madison Avenue, designed by William Kapp and developed by Matilda Dodge Wilson. The Detroit Institute of Arts contains the renovated 1,150-seat Detroit Film Theatre. Smaller sites with long histories in the city were preserved by physically moving the entire structure. In a notable preservation, the Gem Theatre and Century Theatre were moved (off their foundation) to a new address across from the Music Hall Center in order to construct Comerica Park. Detroit's 1,571-seat Redford Theatre (1928), with its Japanese motifs, is home to the Motor City Theatre Organ Society (MCTOS).
Along with Wayne State University’s Hilberry Theatre, the only graduate repertory theater in the nation, Detroit has enjoyed a resurgence in theatrical productions and attendance. In the 2000s, shows ranging from touring musicals to local theatre happen nightly and the theatres have sparked a significant increase in nightlife; hospitality ventures serving the area have increased accordingly. With its sports venues and casinos, the Detroit Theatre District has revitalized neighborhoods like Grand Circus Park and its nearby Foxtown, Greektown, the Cultural Center and New Center area anchored by the 2,089-seat Fisher Theatre.
The city has some surviving historic theatres which have been converted to other uses while others await redevelopment. Albert Kahn and Ernest Wilby designed the Beaux Arts styled National Theatre (1911) with its Moorish entry at 118 Monroe Street which also awaits redevelopment. The 2,200 seat National Theatre is the oldest surviving theatre from the city's first theatre district. The futuristic Cadillac Centre begins construction on Detroit's historic Monroe block, once a collection of eight antebellum commercial buildings demolished in 1990. C. Howard Crane designed the Neo-Renaissance styled United Artists Theatre Building at 150 Bagley Street slated to become a residential high rise. The 600-seat Stratford Theatre at 4751 W. Vernor Hwy., designed by Joseph P. Jogerst, seated 1,137 when it opened in 1916. The Art Deco styled Stratford Theatre in the West Vernor-Junction Historic District has operated as a retail store since 1985. The ornate Spanish styled Hollywood Theatre (1927) at the corner of Ferdinand and Fort St. was demolished in 1963. When the historic Hollywood opened, it was the city's second largest with 3,400 seats. The Hollywood Barton theatre organ was saved and awaits restoration. There were over 7,000 such organs installed in American theatres from 1915 to 1933, but fewer than forty remain in their original location such as the Barton theatre organ in Ann Arbor's Michigan Theatre.
Detroit's performance centers and theatres emanate from the Grand Circus Park Historic District and continue along Woodward Avenue toward the Fisher Theatre in the city's New Center. The Detroit Opera House is located at Broadway and Grand Circus. The east necklace of downtown links Grand Circus and the stadium area to Greektown along Broadway. The east neckace contains a sub-district sometimes called the Harmonie Park District in the Broadway Avenue Historic District which has taken on the renowned legacy of Detroit's music from the 1930s through the 1950s and into the present. Near the Opera House, and emanating from Grand Circus along the east necklace, are other venues including the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts and the Gem Theatre and Century Club. The historic Harmonie Club and Harmonie Centre are located along Broadway. The Harmonie Park area ends near Gratiot and Randolph.
Performing arts venues
Name Image Built Location Capacity Organization Style Architect Fox Theatre 1928 2211 Woodward Ave.
5,045 Olympia Entertainment Art Deco facade,
C. Howard Crane Detroit Masonic Temple Theatre 1922 500 Temple Ave.
4,404 Olympia Entertainment Neo-Gothic George D. Mason Bert's Warehouse Theater 2739 Russell 3,000 Bert's Entertainment Bohemian warehouse Detroit Opera House 1922 1526 Broadway Street 2,700 Michigan Opera Theater,
Italian Renaissance C. Howard Crane Fillmore Detroit 1925 2115 Woodward Ave.
2,200 Live Nation Neo-Renaissance C. Howard Crane Fisher Theatre 1927 3011 West Grand Boulevard
2,089 Nederlander Art Deco Albert Kahn Orchestra Hall 1919 3711 Woodward Ave.
2,014 Detroit Symphony Orchestra Neo-Renaissance C. Howard Crane Harpos Concert Theatre 1939 1315 Broadway St. 1,975 Wisper & Wetsman Art moderne Charles N. Agree Motor City Casino theatre 2007 2901 Grand River Avenue 1,800 Novelty, Modern Giffels Inc., NORR Limited Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts 1928 350 Madison Ave.
1,700 Kresge Foundation Art Deco facade,
William E. Kapp, Smith Hinchman & Grylls Redford Theatre 1928 17354 Lahser Ave.
1,571 Motor City Theater Organ Society Exotic Revival, Japanese motifs Ralph F. Shreive with Verner, Wilheim, and Molby Majestic Theater 1915 4140 Woodward Avenue
1,260 Art Deco C. Howard Crane Riverfront 4 Movie Theatres 1978 Renaissance Center
1250 Modern John Portman
Skidmore, Owings and Merrill
Greektown Casino theatre 2009 555 East Lafayette 1,200 Novelty, Modern Rossetti MGM Grand Detroit theatre 2007 1777 Third Street 1,200 MGM Mirage Modern SmithGroup Bonstelle Theatre 1903 3424 Woodward Ave.
1,173 Wayne State University Neoclassical Albert Kahn,
C. Howard Crane
Detroit Film Theatre 1927 5201 Woodward Ave.
1,150 Detroit Institute of Arts Neo-Renaissance Paul Philippe Cret Senate Theatre 1926 6424 Michigan Ave 900 Detroit Theater Organ Society Art Deco Christian W. Brandt Hillberry Theatre 1916 532 Wayne State University Neoclassical Field, Hinchman and Smith City Theatre 2004 2301 Woodward Ave. 500 Olympia Entertainment Gem Theatre 1927 333 Madison
450 Italian Renaissance George D. Mason Century Theatre 1903 333 Madison
250 Italian Renaissance George D. Mason Chrysler IMAX Dome Theatre 2001 5020 John R. St. 230 Detroit Science Center Postmodern BEI Associates, Neumann/Smith, William Kessler Associates Detroit Repertory Theatre 1963 13103 Woodrow Wilson 194 Detroit Repertory Theatre The Players 1925 3321 East Jefferson Ave. The Players Club Florentine Renaissance, Arts and Crafts, Art Deco murals. William E. Kapp, Smith Hinchman & Grylls Bohemian National Home 1914 3009 Tillman Street Studio Theatre 112 Wayne State University Black box Boll Family YMCA Theatre 1401 Broadway YMCA,
Plowshares Theatre Company
Historic venues awaiting restoration
Name Image Built Location Capacity Organization Style Architect National Theatre
1911 118 Monroe St.
2,200 Phoenix Properties LLC Baroque-Beaux Arts-Moorish Albert Kahn United Artists Theatre Building
1928 150 Bagley St. 2,070 Ilitch Holdings Spanish Gothic C. Howard Crane Alger Theater
1935 16541 East Warren Avenue 1,500 Friends of the Alger Theater  Art Deco
- ^ Firsts and facts Detroit Tourism Economic Development Council. Retrieved on July 24, 2008.
- ^ Arts & Culture Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. Retrieved on July 24, 2008. "Detroit is home to the second largest theatre district in the United States."
- ^ a b c d e f Hill, Eric J. and John Gallagher (2002). AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-3120-3.
- ^ Hauser, Michael and Marianne Weldon (2006). Downtown Detroit's Movie Palaces (Images of America). Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-4102-8.
- ^ Hodges, Michael H. (September 8, 2003).Fox Theater's rebirth ushered in city's renewal. Michigan History, The Detroit News. Retrieved on November 23, 2007.
- ^ Marzejka, Laurie J. (January 25, 1998).Detroit's historic Fox Theatre. Michigan History, The Detroit News. Retrieved on July 9, 2009.
- ^ James M. Nederlander biography. Film Reference. Retrieved on August 17, 2008.
- ^ Mosiac Youth Theatre. Retrieved on July 8, 2009.
- ^ AIA Detroit Urban Priorities Committee, (January 10, 2006).Top 10 Detroit Interiors.Model D Media. Retrieved on November 23, 2007.
- ^ a b Redford Theatre Building. Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. Retrieved on January 14, 2008.
- ^ a b National Theatre.Buildings of Detroit. Retrieved on July 16, 2009.
- ^ Hyde, Charles (May–June 1991).Demolition by Neglect: The Failure to Save the Monroe Block.Michigan History Magazine.Retrieved on January 20, 2008.
- ^ a b The Hollywood Theatre, Detroit, MI. The Detroit News (March 17, 1963). Cited at StevenBall.com. Retrieved on January 14, 2008.
- ^ Hooray for Hollywood. Journal of the American Theatre Organ Society (November/December ). Cited at StevenBall.com. Retrieved on January 14, 2008.
- ^ Aldridge, Henry B. (September/October 1998).The Michigan Theatre Celebrates Twenty-Five Years of Organ Overtures. Journal of the American Theatre Organ Society. Cited at StevenBall.com. Retrieved on January 14, 2008.
- ^ Harmonie Park District.Retrieved on January 31, 2010.
- ^ Orchestra Hall restoration. State Historic Preservation Office. Retrieved on December 10, 2007.
- ^ algertheater.org
- ^ Alger Theater.Buildings of Detroit. Retrieved on July 16, 2009.
References and further reading
- Cantor, George (2005). Detroit: An Insiders Guide to Michigan. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0472030922.
- Eisenstein, Paul (February 1997). Relighting the Footlights: The Detroit Opera House renovation recaptures the golden age of the American stage. Popular Mechanics.
- Hauser, Michael and Marianne Weldon (2006). Downtown Detroit's Movie Palaces (Images of America). Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-4102-8.
- Hill, Eric J. and John Gallagher (2002). AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-3120-3.
- Meyer, Katherine Mattingly and Martin C.P. McElroy with Introduction by W. Hawkins Ferry, Hon A.I.A. (1980). Detroit Architecture A.I.A. Guide Revised Edition. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-1651-4.
- Sharoff, Robert (2005). American City: Detroit Architecture. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-3270-6.
- Sobocinski, Melanie Grunow (2005). Detroit and Rome: building on the past. Regents of the University of Michigan. ISBN 0933691092.
- Detroit Entertainment District
- Detroit Symphony Orchestra - Orchestra Hall
- Detroit Opera House - Motopera Theatre
- Hilberry Theatre - Wayne State University
- Nederlander Detroit - Fisher and Masonic Theatres
- Olympia Entertainment - The Fox Theatre and the City Theatre
- Studio Theatre - Wayne State University
Theatre in Detroit VenuesBaldwin Theatre • Bohemian National Home • Bonstelle Theatre • Century Theatre • City Theatre • Detroit Film Theatre • Detroit Masonic Temple • Detroit Opera House • Detroit Repertory Theatre • Fisher Theatre • The Fillmore Detroit • Fox Theatre • Gem Theatre • Greektown Casino • Harpos Concert Theatre • Hilberry Theatre • MGM Grand Detroit • Majestic Theater • Max M. Fisher Music Center • MotorCity Casino • Music Hall Center • Orchestra Hall • The Players • Redford Theatre • Senate Theatre • Studio Theatre OrganizationsBert's Entertainment • Detroit Institute of Arts • Detroit Repertory Theatre • Detroit Symphony Orchestra • Greektown Casino • Kresge Foundation • Live Nation • MGM Mirage • Mosiac Youth Theatre • MotorCity Casino • Nederlander • Plowshares Theatre Co. • Olympia Entertainment • The Players Club • Theatre Bizarre • Wayne State University Architecture of metropolitan Detroit Skyscrapers10 tallest
to 73 stories20 tallest30 tallest40 tallest50 - 195 tallest60 - 195 tallest70 - 195 tallestNew Center
to 30 storiesEast side
to 29 storiesSuburban
to 32 stories
under 10 stories
Parks and gardens Museums and librariesDetroit Institute of Arts · Detroit Public Library · Museum of African American History · Science Center · Historical Museum · Cranbrook · The Henry Ford · Meadowbrook Hall · Fair Lane · Edsel and Eleanor Ford House · Pewabic Pottery · Southfield Public Library · University of Michigan Museum of Art Religious landmarksReligious landmarks Performance centersTheatres and performing arts venues Neighborhood
Historic DistrictsSee also: List of tallest buildings in Detroit
City of Detroit
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