hen the 1,900-seat
opened in 1928, its
drew crowds delighted with its
exotic look. But World War II
put a temporary kibosh on that.
Mindful of America's animosity
toward its Asian enemy, the the-
ater management did its best to tc
paint over, wall in and board up 4: '7
the pagodas, dragons and Ori-
For the next 30 years, the
suburban Detroit theater lan-
guished in decay, continuing to
host films until its owner decid-
ed to shut it down in 1974 — a
kind of cultural kamikaze.
But the Motor City Theatre Organ So-
ciety (MCTOS) wouldn't let it happen.
Though the nonprofit group was dedicat-
ed to maintaining the structure's archi-
tectural integrity, it was just as concerned
with preserving the Redford's original Bar-
ton Theatre Organ, a historical gem dec-
orated with black and gold serpentine
dragons and boasting 750 pipes.
Since buying the structure, the MCTOS
has brought the grand foyer back to its for-
mer glory, replaced the carpeting and the
stage's grand drape, installed a new heat-
ing system and painted the theater's ceil-
ings and walls. Dorothy Van Steenkiste,
a MCTOS board member and chairwoman
of just about every committee in the group,
says it costs the group $200 a day just to
keep the Redford's doors open.
All of the group's work is volunteer, with
improvements financed through profes-
sional organ concerts, rentals and the in-
creasingly popular classic film series.
Every other week, the Redford screens a
movie from the Hollywood archives, com-
plete with a guest organist performing pri-
or to the show and at intermission. A few
years back, someone donated an Ameri-
can flag large enough to fit across the
stage, and before each performance, the
curtain of stars and stripes is lowered
Gallery, storytelling for children
in grades K-3, in conjunction
with the current exhibit of Jew-
ish children's books. 2 p.m. Sun-
day, Feb. 25. JCC West
Bloomfield. (810) 661-7641.
The Wizard of Oz, performed
by.Abbott Middle School stu-
dents. 7:30 p.m. Friday-Satur-
day, March 1-2. $5. West
Bloomfield High School, Orchard
Lake Road north of Maple. (810)
Passage, a cultural journey
through music, with dance and
FRIFSAriFEW12 -24, —
Et LIE ANDREW
while the organist plays the na-
Van Steenkiste emphasizes
the valuable role the Redford
Theatre plays in its community:
Local groups can use the space
for meetings without charge; the
MCTOS presents school pro-
grams in the theater on a regu-
lar basis, and the foot traffic the
film series brings has been a boon
to neighborhood businesses.
But to remain viable, the Red-
ford still needs extensive reno-
vations, like a new roof and
air-conditioning system; and grant mon-
ey has not been as forthcoming as she
would like. Which doesn't mean she is giv-
ing up. "I'll keep trying until we connect."
Et The Historic Redford Theatre pre-
sents The Sound of Music, 8 p.m. Fri-
day, Feb. 23; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday,
eb. 24, with guest organist Tony
'Brien (organ overture begins half
our prior to the show). Tickets are
2.50. 17360 Lahser Road at Grand
River. (313) 537-2560.
Dorothy Van Steenkiste and the Motor City Theatre Organ Society are working to preserve the 68-year-old Redford Theatre and its original 750-pipe organ.
The group raises money through film series and concerts.
skits, performance by the Michi-
gan Theatre & Dance Troupe in
honor of Black History. Month.
1:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24.
$3.25. Room 115, Southfield
Parks and Recreation Building,
2600 Evergreen. (810) 424-9039.
stitute. Seventy local, national
and Canadian summer camps,
including trips for teens. 11 a.m.-
3:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25, Cran-
brook Schools, 1221 N.
Woodward, Bloomfield Hills.
Snowman, Raymond Briggs
picture-book character will greet
children. 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb.
24. Borders, 31150 Southfield
Road, Birmingham. (810) 644-
Sunday Funday at the Detroit
Institute of Arts. The Plowshares
Theatre Co. teaches basic dra-
ma techniques, using poetry and
literature by African-American
writers. 34:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb.
25. "Funpacks," available for $16
for a family of four to explore the
museum, include snack vouch-
Michigan Camp Fair, spon-
sored by the Merrill-Palmer In-
ers and souvenirs. 5200 Wood-
ward Ave., Detroit. (313) 833-
2323 or (313) 833-7900.
Ishangi's Africa, a mix of West
African music, dance, arts and
sciences, presented by Youthe-
atre. 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Satur-
day, Feb. 24; 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb.
25. $7. Music Hall, 350 Madison
Ave., Detroit. (313) 963-2366.
Waginogan: The Gathering
Place. Re-creation of an Indian
"gathering place." 1-4 p.m. Sat-
urday-Sunday through May 5.
Cranbrook Institute of Science,
1221 N. Woodward Ave. (810)
Detroit Zoo, includes the
Wildlife Interpretive Gallery, an
indoor gallery, aquarium, but-
terfly and hummingbird garden
and ongoing films. Open every
day 10 a.m.-4 p.m. $6 ages 13-
611$4 age 62 and over/$3 kids 2-
12. 1-696 and Woodward Ave.,
Royal Oak. (810) 398-0903.
Cranbrook Institute of Sci-
ence: What Makes Music? The
science behind sound and the
CALENDAR page 80