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.
As a benga beat pulses through the crowd, the Kenya Safari Acrobats defy gravity and the body's limitations as they leap through hoops, tumble from human towers, and limbo under bars. In one of their most famous and startling acts, a single performer stacks, climbs, and then balances on a single-file tower of rickety wooden chairs. Meanwhile, other performers juggle up to six straw hats, bend metal with their hands and teeth, or walk across a bed of nails. As artistic ambassadors of their native Kenya, the acrobats tie educational relevancy to their school performances in stories that highlight the importance of physical fitness, respect for elders and the true meaning of the Swahili phrase "hakuna matata," which The Lion King incorrectly translated as "get rich or die trying."
PJ's and Gracie's join forces on a nightly basis to saturate Southeastern Michigan with rotating genres of live and recorded music. Travel between the establishments without paying double cover, enjoying Gracie's eclectic mix of acts and PJ's spacious dance floor. Depending on the night, you may swing to a big band, sway to a rock group, or juggle the rave ball to the sounds of a DJ. Check the website for upcoming ear enticers. With your bucket of beers, you can raise a glass to a gleeful guitar solo or toast to a toe-tapping tympani roll. Scoop up this side deal for a cover-charge-less jaunt through two of Ann Arbor's most aurally aware bars.