Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to join New York Mayor Eric Adams for "DETROIT ON BROADWAY" - a February 4 tribute to Detroit's century-long contributions to New York theatre culminating in a record number of Detroiters producing or appearing in shows this seas

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to join New York Mayor Eric Adams for "DETROIT ON BROADWAY" - a February 4 tribute to Detroit's century-long contributions to New York theatre culminating in a record number of Detroiters producing or appearing in shows this season

  • City kicks off Black History Month February 1st with special broadcasts
  • City Historian Jamon Jordan’s first official History Lecture on February 1st

DETROIT - Mayor Mike Duggan and New York Mayor Eric Adams will walk the red carpet at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre Friday, February 4 to kick off #DetroitOnBroadway, a celebration of the rich and deep history of Detroit’s contributions to American theater, a history that has culminated in a record number of Detroiters producing or appearing in shows this season!

The two mayors will appear at the front of the house at the Friedman and share remarks and exchange gifts before the 8 p.m. curtain rises on “Skeleton Crew,” Detroiter Dominique Morisseau’s powerful play about workers at a Detroit auto stamping plant at the start of the Great Recession. The play stars Detroiter Chanté Adams in her Broadway debut and comes as she garners acclaim for her role in the film “A Journal for Jordan.”

The play also kicks off Detroit Night on Broadway at the Friedman. Detroiters who live across New York’s five boroughs – and some from Detroit – are expected in the theater to celebrate. Friday’s commemoration is not just about current Detroit greats, but also highlights a century of rich history of Detroit’s contributions, in people and productions, to Broadway’s greatness and to the careers of some of its most famous practitioners for a century.

Consider James L. Nederlander of the Nederlander family of Detroit, a veteran Broadway theatre owner, operator, producer and presenter. He is the president of the Nederlander Organization and an 11-time Tony Award winner after 28 nominations. The Nederlander Organization has built a national network of theatres including nine Broadway venues in New York: the Brooks Atkinson, Gershwin, Lunt-Fontanne, Marquis, Minskoff, Nederlander, Palace, Richard Rodgers and Neil Simon Theatres.

Consider Woodie King, Jr. the famed director and producer of stage and screen, who grew up in Detroit and worked at the Ford Motor Company and later for City of Detroit as a draftsman before moving to New York, where his impact was legendary. He later founded the New Federal Theatre and produced landmark Broadway shows including "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf" in 1975 and “Checkmates” starring Denzel Washington and written by Detroiter Ron Milner in 1988. King was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 2011.

Consider celebrated actor George C. Scott, who was raised in metro Detroit and set up the Theatre of Michigan in Detroit with his wife Colleen Dewhurst to produce plays in his hometown to take to Broadway. The couple lived in a Detroit hotel while they worked on the theater. Scott went on to star in theater and films, including “Patton” and “Anatomy of a Murder,” which was filmed in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Consider Diahann Carroll, who starred in the musical drama “No Strings.” Its score was the only one for which Richard Rodgers wrote both the music and lyrics, the first since the death of his longtime collaborator Oscar Hammerstein II. The U.S. premiere was at the Fisher Theater in Detroit, where the show ran from January 15 to February 3, 1962, cementing Carroll’s stardom. The show moved to Broadway in 1962, running for 580 performances. It received six Tony Award nominations, winning three, for Best Leading Actress in a Musical, Best Original Score and Best Choreography. Ms. Carroll made history as the first Black woman to win the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical.

Consider Lloyd George, the Canadian-American theatre director, actor, and dean of the Yale School of Drama from 1979 to 1991, and Yale University professor emeritus, who was born in Toronto, but was raised in Detroit. His father, a Jamaican carpenter turned auto-industry worker, died when Richards was nine years old. Soon after, his mother lost her eyesight, and Lloyd and his brother, Allan, kept the family together. He studied law at Wayne University but found his way into theatrical arts after serving briefly in the U.S. Air Force during World War II. Among Richards' accomplishments was his staging the original production of Lorraine Hansberry's “A Raisin in the Sun,” which debuted on Broadway to standing ovations in 1959. In 1984, he introduced August Wilson to Broadway in “Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.”

Consider Ronald Milner, who grew up on Hastings Street in "Black Bottom,” and famously said, “The more I read in high school, the more I realized that some tremendous, phenomenal things were happening around me. What happened in a Faulkner novel happened four times a day on Hastings Street.” Milner’s break came with the 1966 play “Who’s Got His Own,” which toured N.Y. before landing at the Lafayette Theatre in 1967. His later partnership with Woodie King Jr. lasted 40 years. He later taught at Michigan State University from 1971 to 1972 and founded the Spirit of Shango theatre company. He also taught playwriting classes at Wayne State University.

Consider Charles S. Gilpin, the most successful, African-American stage performer in the early 20th Century. The mega-star received critical acclaim from both white and black audiences for his performance as the lead in Eugene O’Neill’s play “The Emperor Jones.” O’Neill had written the lead for a white actor to play in blackface, a common practice in early 20th century American theatre. But after he saw Gilpin’s performance in the 1919 premiere of John Drinkwater's “Abraham Lincoln,” he chose Gilpin to play Brutus Jones. The play was a turning point in O’Neill's career, who thanks to that play, went on to become one of America's most famous playwrights. Gilpin wasn’t born in Detroit, but Detroit’s Plowshares Theatre’s original production of “N” about his life and influence unearthed that history and made clear his impact on Broadway.

The #DetroitOnBroadway celebration Friday comes as the City of Detroit launches its Black History Month programming, curated by the Office of Arts, Culture and Entrepreneurship (Detroit ACE) and Detroit Media with announcements of new additional initiatives and programming expected weekly. All Detroit Ace programming, which begins on February 1, can be viewed on Channel 22 (Detroit A&E), the City YouTube Channel and Detroit ACE Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TheDetroitACE. Among the highlights are:

Noon February 1: Inaugural address of City Historian Jamon Jordan, whose topic is: “To Dislodge Prejudice The Shared Mission of Black History Month and The Detroit Plaindealer”

7 p.m. February 1: Carr Center Presents: “A Poet's Poet: A Tribute to Naomi Long Madgett. Founded in 1991 as the Arts League of Michigan, the Carr Center has a long history of providing strong programming that focuses on artistic excellence to the Detroit community. The Carr Center programming will air at 7 p.m. every Tuesday during the month.

7 p.m. February 4: Friday Night Films, a series of historic heritage films by black directors and producers will screen at 7 p.m. each Friday night on all platforms. Among them are films produced by Oscar Devereaux Micheaux, author, film director and independent producer of more than 44 films. Micheaux is considered the most successful African-American filmmakers of the first half of the 20th century. His Lincoln Motion Picture Company was the first owned and controlled by a Black filmmaker.

7 p.m. February 7: A conversation between Arts and Culture Director Rochelle Riley and Dan Charnas about his new book, “Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, the Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm.” The event marks Detroit joining cities around the country in celebrating the late, iconic hip-hop producer who was born James DeWitt Yancey in Detroit on February 7 and rose to become a Grammy-nominated hip-hop producer. He started playing the violin when he was 4, began composing orchestral music at 10 and took up the viola at 12. The first musician he truly loved was Bach. Jay D on February 10, 2006. His custom-made are on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in D.C.

7 p.m. February 8: Carr Center Presents “Duo and Duets”- a limited series of weekly pre-recorded, mostly duet performances by artists who include: Terri Lyne Carrington and Danilo Perez; Patrice Rushen and Billy Childs; Ben Williams and Marcus Grisholm + Jean Baylor; Lisa Fischer & Louis Cato; Thornetta Davis; Terri Lyne Carrington & Jack DeJohnette + Matthew Garrison; and Terri Lyne Carrington & Danilo Perez + Sonja Sanchez

7 p.m. February 9: Highlights from an historic night on February 4 in New York, where Mayor Duggan and New York Mayor Eric Adams are to honor the record number of Detroit creatives working this season.

7 p.m. February 16: A livestreamed conversation with artist Jonathan co-sponsored by Irwin House Gallery, about his evolving journey after his now famous “Critical Theory,” went viral on the internet. Created for an exhibition in November 2021, the painting depicts Caucasian male white-washing historic black including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Jon will join Rochelle Riley and Cornelius Godfrey – Educational Equity, Inclusion and Community Relationships in the Troy School District.

Jonathan.Harris