8 - The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, September 23, 1993
The renaissance of theater in downtown Detroit
While Detroit may not be the rst stop for national touring companies, it manages to hold its own as
By MELISSA ROSE BERNARDO
The opening of the Second City
comedy club is an indication that De-
troit is on its way up again. Within just
the past few years Detroiters have
witnessed the restoration of the Fox
and the Gem Theaters, along with the
virtual resuscitation of all-but-dead
past seasons at the Fisher Theater and
Masonic Temple. Some exciting pro-
ductions await Detroit theatergoers,
and with a little imagination, and a lot
of faith, Detroit will come to life once
Detroit has the second-largestnum-
ber of theater seats in the country
(second to the Big Apple, of course),
and at the center is the Fisher Theater.
In 1989, the Fisher played host to the
national tour of "Les Misdrables,"
which was a huge step for the Detroit
theater scene. The show opened in
1987, and two years and eight Tony
awards later, it had finally made its
way to Detroit. It was so well-re-
ceived by audiences that it returned
the next two years. And it will return
this December for another engage-
Last winter the Masonic Temple
presented "The Phantom of the Op-
era," Andrew Lloyd-Webber's six-
Tony-winning smash. Finally! No
longer did Detroit theatergoers have
to make a four-hour trek to see the
Canadian man with the mask (and
none of that hassle at the border, ei-
And in just a little over a year from
now, "Miss Saigon" will play the
Masonic. (With one of the largest stage
spaces in the country, the Masonic can
accommodate the huge helicopter that
"Saigon" demands. In Toronto, Cana-
dians built a $27 million theater for
"Cats," the musical that just turned
10 years old, has played both the Fisher
and Fox Theaters in the past. Last
season the Fisher brought us "The
Secret Garden" and "The Will Rogers
Follies" (with Keith Carradine and
Dee Hoty, of the original Broadway
cast) - both multiple Tony-winners.
(Do you see a pattern here?)
This season "The Who's 'Tommy"'
will hit Detroit with a smash. In addi-
tion, 1992's Best Musical "Crazy for
You" will be here in February the
rollicking "Five Guys Named Moe"
Within Just the past few
years Detroiters have
restoration of the Fox
and the Gem Theaters,
along with the virtual
resuscitation of all-but-
dead past seasons at the
Fisher Theater and
in April and "Evita" has just begun its
run at the Fisher.
In addition to the various films and
concerts it regularly presents, the Fox
Theater presents numerous Broadway
musicals - most notably the national
tour of "Guys and Dolls" with Lorna
Luft, "Gypsy," "A Chorus Line" and
(just recently) "Jesus Christ Super-
a theatrical haven
star" with film stars Ted Neeley and
Carl Anderson. And let's not forget
that "Forbidden Broadway" played to
sellout crowds for over a year at the
Gem Theater. The big stuff does come
to Detroit - we just have to wait a
while for it.
When dealing with national tours
of a show, here goes the chain of
command (i.e. the route shows travel):
(London) - New York City - Los An-
geles - Chicago - Boston - Washing-
ton D.C. - Toronto - Detroit. Of course,
depending on the producer, there is
some variation in this chain, but what
doesn't vary is Detroit's position -
usually dead last among the big cities.
Does this mean that Detroit isn't good
enough for big productions? Produc-
ers need to realize that Detroit's the-
ater audiences are just as vital and just
as intelligent as Chicago audiences,
or Boston audiences.
The physical rebuilding of Detroit
is a signal to the theater scene. Detroit's
future is bright and shining and full of
the promise to nurture a theater scene
as brilliant as New York's. Close your
eyes. (Not just yet -finish the article
first.) Can you hear the roar of the
crowd? Smell the greasepaint? See
the white lights. Hear the hum of the
orchestra. Welcome to Detroit.
"Tommy" is just one of the few Tony-winning Broadway productions to hit Detroit.
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