by Fred Wurtzel
From the Editor: Here is NFB of Michigan President Fred Wurtzel’s most recent offering, describing the entertainment opportunities available during our 2009 convention:
Federationists, prepare to party! You are coming to Detroit July 3 to 8 for the largest gathering of blind people in the world. Any of you who have been at an NFB national convention know that our agenda is crowded from early morning to late at night. However, you may wish to take advantage of this chance to take in a show or concert available only in the biggest cities in the country. In this article we will cover some of the premier theater and concert venues from Broadway to opera to Live Nation rock, all within easy travel distance of the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center. We recommend that you either come early or stay late to take full advantage of these fantastic world-class entertainment opportunities. For more places and up-to-date schedules, check <http://www.visitdetroit.com/index.php/culture>.
Detroit is a surprising city. A lot of entertainers love Detroit audiences. We are enthusiastic and educated and love a good time. Detroit’s industrial titans built theaters and arenas to rival the world’s best. They are here in their splendor with events for everyone. Did you know that Detroit has the second largest number of theater seats in the U.S.? Detroit is a hub of world-class entertainment. Schedules weren’t available at this writing for the venues below, so check with them closer to our convention.
The Fox Theater, within reasonable walking distance of our convention headquarters and near the People Mover, is the second largest theater in the country, smaller only than Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Detroit business leaders Mike and Marion Ilitch of Little Caesar's Pizza reopened this showplace after a complete renovation and restoration in 1988. The Fox Theater has all the style and grace of the classic showplace that it was built to be. The Fox hosts plays and a lot of concerts, both pop and classical.
The Fisher Building houses the Fisher Theater. The building and theater were designed by the famous architect Albert Kahn. It is just west of Woodward in the New Center area of Detroit and easily accessible by public transportation. The lobby arcade of the building is worth visiting just for the experience. The elaborate Fisher arcade includes forty varieties of marble. The stone came from France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Greece, Africa, New York, Massachusetts, and Missouri. Every detail is elegant, and one can appreciate much of it by touch. The theater is the main Detroit venue for Broadway productions.
Detroit Opera House, home of the Michigan Opera Theater, is the main venue for opera in Detroit. It is near the Fox Theater, within reasonable walking distance of the hotel, and is on the People Mover route. Other performances also take advantage of its near perfect acoustics to present the best in entertainment; however, opera shows the care that went into the design of the space. The theater is decorated in the Italian Renaissance style with lavish crystal chandeliers, frescoes, brass fixtures, and marble stairways and drinking fountains. Rich rose-red Italian damask is used for the main-stage curtain and draperies throughout the house. Tours are available. Check later for scheduled performances.
For national and international pop and rock, the newly refurbished State Theater, now known as the Fillmore, is the place to go. Next to the Fox Theater, it is easily accessible from the Marriott by foot or People Mover. Here is a quote from the Webpage: “For most of its Detroit history, this ultra-hip concert venue, built in 1925, was known as the State Theatre. It received its official re-branding in 2007 when new chandeliers, poster exhibits, and a burgundy-heavy scheme were implemented to capture the visual spirit of the original San Francisco landmark. Hippies beware: no tie-dye or peace symbols here, ma-a-an. A rich schedule, heavy with music from the MTV generation, finds throngs of Gen Xers flocking to this premier concert venue.”
Fox Theater, 2211 Woodward Ave, Detroit, Michigan 48201; (313) 471-6611; Website: <www.olympiaentertainment.com>.
Fisher Theatre General Information, The Fisher Theatre; 3011 W. Grand Boulevard; Detroit, Michigan 48202; phone numbers: box office and ticket info. (313) 872-1000; Ticketmaster charge by phone: (800) 982-2787; business office: Monday-Friday 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m., (313) 872-1000; emergency during shows: (313) 872-1111; lost and found: (313) 872-1000.
Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway, Detroit, Michigan 48226; (313) 961-3500; fax: (313) 237-3412; <www.michiganopera.org>.
Fillmore, 2115 Woodward, Detroit, Michigan 48201; (313) 961-5450; <www.livenation.com/venue>; <http://detroit.metromix.com/music/metal/the-fillmore-detroit-foxtown-theatre-district/346224/content>.