A glittering, two-story marquee and Spanish-style terra-cotta façade extols the Michigan Theater of Jackson's 82-year history to anyone who passes. Established in 1930, the theater originally presented movies and vaudeville shows to the public, who viewed the spectacles from the lower level or balcony seated between gilded columns under an ornate, plaster ceiling. Though the entertainment industry continued to evolve, The Michigan Theatre retained much of its lavish, vintage charm—including rich, damask draperies, stained-glass light fixtures, and WWII-era Pacman machines—until it closed down in 1978. The historical theater was acquired in 1993 by a not-for-profit organization, which reopened the theater's doors and restored the building to its current state.
Today, the entertainment hub hosts classic and art-house films as well as live theater and concerts. In the first-floor lobby, an old-fashioned candy counter sells sweets and popcorn to make sure audiences have something to throw at the screen during midnight screenings of Chinatown.
The youthful romanticism of Juliet. The raging jealousies of Othello. Richard III's outsized villainy. All are found in the pages of Shakespeare's works, and all are brought to vibrant new life at the Michigan Shakespeare Festival, the official Shakespeare festival of the state. With characters so rich, it's not surprising that the company exclusively staged the Bard's works for 19 years. But, recognizing that Shakespeare's reach extended far beyond the end of his own quill, the Festival now showcases one piece from an additional playwright each season. But whether the curtain opens on a comedy or a tragedy, a dramatic history or a tender romance, the organization aims to move audiences with timeless stories.
Although it’s the oldest continuously running theater in Michigan (and the third oldest in all of the United States), Croswell Opera House has more vibrancy than most venues half its age. Renovated over the last two decades with a new stage floor, an enlarged orchestra pit, and burgundy and gold medallions atop a fresh coat of paint, the historic venue has lost none of its old-fashioned charm as it continues through its second century.
Originally constructed in 1866, the downtown epicenter of Lenawee County arts and culture has played host to a rich timeline of American entertainment. The 1800s featured vaudeville acts, musicians, and orators such as Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, and the early 1900s saw silent movies swallowed by the next wave of cinema: loudies. Although it was nearly demolished in 1967, the opera house persevered with the loving care of its staff and patrons, and today continues to host a wealth of musical acts, Broadway shows, and children’s theater.