The Detroit Institute of Arts takes the “s” at the end of its name seriously. The immense Beaux Arts building on Woodward Avenue isn’t only a setting for a top-tier collection of visual works that include Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry frescoes, a van Gogh self-portrait, and ancient sculptures from Africa and Asia. It also opens the doors of its lecture halls, event spaces, and auditoriums for craft workshops, wide-ranging talks from historians and people who know how to draw really good cubes, film, and music. The latter two art forms find a home in the Detroit Film Theatre, a gilded, neoclassical auditorium that preserves a sense of coziness amid the grandeur.
Since 1963, more than two million guests that have passed through the Hilberry Theatre and been inspired by the passion and portrayal of the human condition they have seen on stage. Every year, audiences at the Hilberry laugh, cry, engage, question, applaud and cheer.
Now in its 54th season, Detroit Repertory Theatre regales audiences with premiere performances of relatable comedies and dramas. Season opener Engagement Rules, running through December 23, splits sides with a comical analysis of love, spotlighting two couples who fight to maintain their relationships through personal turmoil and heated arm-wrestling matches. Burying the Bones (January 12–March 18) weaves a thought-provoking story of a woman haunted by the ghost of her missing husband in post-apartheid South Africa, and Dead and Buried (March 29–May 20) and Taking Care of Mimi (May 31–June 24) fill the spring with inspiring tales of camaraderie and hardship.
Based on Ilene Beckerman's bestselling book and set on stage by screen scribes Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron, Love, Loss, and What I Wore unfolds the poignant and funny stories behind the clothes women wear. One hundred minutes of stories about fitting-room afflictions, bra-buying trauma, and coping with mascot-costume separation anxiety fill an experience that the New York Times describes as "a big bowl of buttered popcorn." At times heartwarming, at others heartbreaking, Ephron's loosely knit network of narratives aimed at ladies and their allies aged 11 and older shows the wry but gentle touch seen in her films When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle.
The Detroit Opera House sprawls across an entire city block, its imposing size and elegant design belying its circuitous history. Originally opened in 1922 as a vaudeville palace—and designed by the renowned architect behind the city's Fillmore and Fox theaters—the space played host to live music and recorded films. But despite the venue’s remarkable acoustics and cheery demeanor, it sat abandoned for long stretches of time over the next few decades. Luckily, fate intervened in 1988 when the opera acquired the building, starting an ambitious remodeling project that culminated in an opening gala featuring Luciano Pavarotti. The opera house’s modern iteration mimics the design of Europe's greatest performance spaces, with an the ornate main hall adorned with vaulted ceilings and sumptuous red curtains.
During its 20th season of socially engaging theater in southwest Detroit, Matrix Theatre Company continues to create challenging and visually compelling work that includes the community it calls home. The year of six plays begins with Southwest Story (October 14–November 13), a Detroit take on the story of Romeo and Juliet that explores the conflict between African-American and Latino cultures but fails to solve the mystery of how Shakespeare kept his goatee so pointy.