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Ghost Light: The Detroit Historic Theatre Tour

Get ready to gain unprecedented access to four of Detroit’s most famous theaters.

Special event! Very few dates!

Limited tickets available.

Tour Pass: $58.99
Click the “Book Now” button to see availability.

Description

Step into the limelight!

We are happy to be presenting you with a rare occasion: a chance to go deep inside four of Detroit’s most beloved historic theaters. We’ve partnered with our friends who protect and restore these gems to get you special access. Our entire city is brimming with a rich theater history and we’re taking you onto the stages, behind the curtains and deep within these majestic structures to hear and see the tales they hold. (Most don’t know Detroit is home to the country’s second largest theater district!)

Where We’re Going

We’re headed to four of these seven theatres each tour – the schedule changes for every date. 

Alger Theater

(April 8th, May 6th, June 3rd, July 8th)

First opened in 1935, the Alger has seen it all. Hosting 1,200 people in its heyday, it was a magnet for the residents of the mid-to-upscale east side of Detroit. The theater has lived many lives including a music venue and a horror cinema. During these middle years, the structure was decaying and approaching abandonment. Now, a group of plucky volunteers are working hard to save the Alger and renovations are currently underway. You’ll get to see one of America’s greatest theaters in the middle of its rebirth.

The Masonic Temple

(April 8th only)

We all think we know this hulking giant, but few truly know what lurks inside. Detroit is home to the largest Masonic Temple in the world –coming in at around 12 million cubic feet. The decor of the main lobby was inspired by a room in an old castle in Palermo, Sicily and its main theater has one of the largest stages in the United States. What you don’t know is the Masonic is also home to thousands of rooms, secret passageways and underground wonders.

Senate Theater

(May 6th, June 3rd, July 8th)

Opened in 1926 and used primarily as a movie theater, the Senate has seen its share of ups and downs over the years. After a restoration in the 1960s, the theater became the current home of the Detroit Theater Organ Society and a Wurlitzer theater pipe organ, opus #1953 –the eighth largest organ that Wurlitzer ever made. I know, right?

Detroit Music Hall

(May 6th only)

Imagine this: in 1928 a woman set out to build a state-of-the-art theater for all people. Today the structure known as the Detroit Music Hall has presented perhaps more performing artists of world renown than any theatre in America.

The Detroit Music Hall stands as the last of Detroit’s remaining authentic stage theaters. Music Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a member of the League of Historic Theaters.

The beautiful and artistic attributes include curved wood-paneled walls, specially designed seats, and multi-tiered lobby dressing rooms to accommodate 100 performers and an orchestra pit for 40 musicians. Many of the original pieces remain functional and in use today.

Detroit Film Theatre

(April 8th, May 6th, June 3rd, July 8th)

Hidden in the back of the Detroit Institute of Arts and built in 1927, the stunning DFT has featured guests from all over the world, including Amelia Earhart, and recently, Iggy Pop. Another fun fact: all of the 1,200 seats in the theatre are slightly different and vary from 18 to 22 inches in width, so butts of all styles are welcome.

The Historic Players Playhouse

(April 8th only)

The Historic Players Playhouse legacy goes back at least 93 years. To a time when Detroit’s primary entertainment was vaudeville and theatrical. This all-male amateur theater group has its roots in the Shakespearean tradition, of men playing all stage roles.

You’ll see where professional productions were staged and tested before heading to Broadway. Where Mel Brooks gave the Players permission to stage “The Producers” before its Broadway opening. Designed by William E. Kapp (Detroit Historical Museum and Historic Music Hall Theatre), featuring Paul Honorés art deco tapestry murals AND 4-story (!!) stage with trap doors, state-of-the-art digital lighting and sound booth, makeup and prop rooms. I mean come on.

The Redford Theatre

(June 3rd, July 8th)

The huuuge Redford Theatre opened in 1928 as a neighborhood movie house and has been operating and entertaining ever since. Now, along with the Fox, it’s one of the last two theaters in metro Detroit with its original theater organ. Its Japanese design motif also underwent substantial restoration and renewal following World War II because it wasn’t really so super popular back then and was covered up for a period of time. It’s back and bigger than ever with probably the best popcorn in town to boot. REAL BUTTER, PEOPLE.

What exactly am I getting for my bucks?

An All-Access Pass

We’ve secured special access you will not get if you simply go to see a performance or film at one of these venues. That’s a promise.

The Real History

Stories about the history of Detroit as a world-class theater destination while visiting some of the places that contribute to that reputation. We’ll take you backstage, behind the scenes and into the areas most people will never see.

Know-It-All

You’ll leave with new fun theater facts to show off next time you head out to see a show at any one of Detroit’s treasured theaters.

What’s A Ghost Light?

According to Matt Stern, a stage manager with nearly 20 years of Broadway experience, who was quoted by Atlas Obscura: “The superstition around it is that theaters tend to be inhabited by ghosts, whether it’s the ghost of old actors or people who used to work in the building, and ghost lights are supposed to keep those ghosts away so that they don’t get mischievous while everyone else is gone.”

THE DETAILS

What’s the schedule?

  1. We’re meeting at the Foran’s Grand Trunk Pub at 11AM. They have tasty food and drinks there and open at 10AM, so maybe go early and get your yum on. There is paid parking nearby and free street parking because it’s Sunday.
  2. We’re going to different theatres on different dates. For your enjoyment, we’re going to:
    • April 8th: The Masonic Temple, The Detroit Film Theatre, the Historic Players Playhouse and the Alger Theatre.
    • May 6th: The Detroit Film Theatre, The Alger Theatre, The Detroit Music Hall and the Senate Theatre.
    • June 3rd: The Detroit Film Theatre, the Alger Theatre, The Redford Theatre and the Senate Theatre.
    • July 8th: The Detroit Film Theatre, the Alger Theatre, The Reford Theatre, and the Senate Theatre.
  3. We’ll have you back to Foran’s Grand Trunk around 4 pm. The amount of time spent at each location will vary, but we’ll have a guide with everyone at each stop to ensure no one gets left behind.
  4. Bring snacks, concessions may be available for purchase at the theaters, but it’s better to be safe than sorry (and hangry).

What’s the refund policy?
We’ll gladly refund your tickets in full seven days prior to the day of the event. After that, there’s no refunds. Sorry to be so mean about it.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

ARE THERE GHOSTS?!?
Nope. At least none that we know of. This isn’t a “ghost tour” — the name comes from an old theatre term we describe above.

What happens if I miss the bus? Will the bus wait for me if I’m late?
Unfortunately we can’t hold up the bus for late comers, there’s a schedule we gotta keep. Be on tiiiime.

Can I drink on the bus?
Not for this one folks. Seeing and appreciating some of Detroit’s most protected sites requires sharp minds and deliberate steps.

What about food and soft drinks?
Snacks and soft drinks are cool! We just ask you leave them on the bus when we enter our locations. These locations aren’t plastic-wrapped like grandma’s couch.

What if I can’t show up? Will my friend be able to go instead?
Totally. Just let us know ahead of time via help@thedetroitbus.com and we’ll update your tickets with the new name or send them with your printed tickets.

Will you be selling extra seats at the bus?
Nope. Sorry. All passes gotta be bought online. There’s a limited number of seats and we want you to have plenty of room – no roof riders no matter how cool that might sound.

What about weather SNAFUs?
We live in Michigan. Sometimes Mother Nature likes to throw us a curveball. We keep safety as our highest priority. In case of gnarly weather, you’ll receive an email the day of the event with a raincheck/snowcheck date. If you cannot make the rescheduled date, you’ll get a voucher good for a future tour with us.

3 reviews for Ghost Light: The Detroit Historic Theatre Tour

  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    Billie McCarthy

    Just did this tour on Sunday (1/20)…was a great tour and definitely recommend it. Raleigh was fun and kept us all moving along and on schedule. I have to say my favorite stop was The Senate. I loved the Wurlitzer and listening to it and seeing all of the parts was pretty cool. Looking forward to the next tour with TDBC!!

  2. Rated 5 out of 5

    Sharon Fisher

    To add to the story of the ghost lights. The last person leaving the stage after a performance was supposed to turn on the light to ward off the spirits

  3. Diana C.

    The magic of some days is hard to articulate.
    Another fascinating exploration of Detroit, this time historical theaters, with places, people and histories that will stay with me for a long time….

    1. the elegant DIA’s Detroit Film Theatre (hidden inside the DIA)

    2. the Senate Theater, home of the Detroit Theater Organ Society(a simply stunning and recently renovated little place) where we watched a live organ performance accompanying Charlie Chaplin’s “The Rink” and had an unforgettable walk inside the pipes of the 8th biggest Wurlitzer organ ever built.

    3.Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts , Detroit’s “people’s theater”, the iconic place which presented more performing artists of world renown than any other theatre in America. Where we were lucky enough to have a totally unexpected and inspiring visit from Vince Paul himself, President and Artistic Director. And it was so refreshing to hear him share a focused and purpose-led vision for the theater, for the programming, for the district and for Detroit …

    4.Alger Theater, one of the 3 remaining neighborhood theaters in Detroit, that a fantastic foundation is struggling to restore and turn into a community events space, way outside the downtown effervescence.

    Thank The Detroit Bus Company, for a tour which went straight to my heart!

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