Culture Calendar: Top Events in Metro Detroit in 2023

The host of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET offers a curated list of this month’s art and entertainment. Plus, explore our 2023 Arts Preview.
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Photograph by Matthew Murphy

Metro Detroit is always so full of events and other fun things to do that it can be tough keeping track of it all. To help you plan your weekend itineraries, we’ve asked Ryan Patrick Hooper, the host of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET to share his top January 2023 events in the area.

Here, find his picks for shows coming to the Detroit Film Theatre, books, movies, and music. Plus, score a list of the best events coming to Metro Detroit this year in our 2023 Arts Preview.

A strong start to the year at the Detroit Film Theatre

It feels like every movie that screens at the Detroit Film Theatre (tucked away inside the Detroit Institute of Arts) comes packed with accolades and great reviews (from the audience and critics alike — imagine that).

Its January run is no different, starting with road trip drama EO, following the journey of a circus-broken donkey through the Polish and Italian countryside. Don’t be fooled by the odd point of view — directed by 84-year-old legend Jerzy Skolimowski, this is a mesmerizing, innovative film that offers up a view of humanity through animal eyes that rarely makes it on the screen in such a purposeful way.

The January schedule is rounded out by the documentary All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, which follows the fabled life and career of artist Nan Goldin as she takes on the pharmaceutical dynasty of the Sackler family, major donors to museums around the globe.

Finally on the list is Broker, which follows two “brokers” of orphaned infants to affluent couples who can’t have children of their own. Fall in love with these films inside the warmth of the Detroit Film Theatre during the city’s coldest, darkest month of the year.

EO, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, and Broker are all showing at the Detroit Film Theatre in the month of January. For dates, showtimes, and tickets, visit dia.org

Book-turned-doc on Peacock tells the story of Rosa Parks

A decade ago, author Jeanne Theoharis helped tell the complete story of civil rights legend Rosa Parks with her book The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks. It reached beyond the margins of what we’re taught in school — her refusal to give up her seat on the Montgomery, Alabama, bus — to show the totality of her 60-year career as an activist both in the South and here in Detroit.

That book has now been turned into a documentary of the same name, shockingly the first documentary about the icon. There’s archival footage and plenty of interviews, but like the best documentaries, it uses the words of Parks herself to illustrate the long, winding road of her fight for civil rights.

If you’re having trouble peeling yourself off the couch this January, consider this a needed dose of important historical sustenance.

The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks is now streaming on Peacock (NBC’s streaming service; subscription required).

Beetlejuice abandons movie plot to offer fresh take on stage

If you do venture out, let me recommend some heartwarming and adventurous musical theater.

I am the last person to co-sign a movie-turned-Broadway production. This is coming from a patron who walked out of the stage adaptation of School of Rock 20 minutes in and never looked back. But there’s something special happening with Beetlejuice, which caps off this month at the Detroit Opera House as part of the Broadway in Detroit winter schedule.

Maybe it’s the fact that it breaks the fourth wall early, ditching a lot of the original source material of Tim Burton’s classic to find its ghostly footing elsewhere. The over-the-top set design, great original music, and solid performances have me rethinking (albeit skeptically) the idea that maybe some movies can survive as a musical onstage. Beetlejuice hits the mark — just don’t make me say it three times.

Beetlejuice opens on Jan. 31 and runs through Feb. 12. Tickets are available via broadwayindetroit.com

On my playlist: John FM’s song of the summer warms up the winter

The musicians, producers, and vocalists from Detroit’s electronic scene are often billed as being way ahead of their time, adopted first by European audiences before folks in their own sonic backyards take notice.

John FM joins this class of creatives with his excellent 2021 EP American Spirit, followed by the single “White Science,” released last summer but still an absolute jam today. It’s got so much Prince in its DNA, it’s hard to resist and will stay on your playlist for months to come.

John FM is an artist to watch not just for the obvious wealth of talent but also because he’s already proven that you can’t guess what he’s going to do next. The city’s music scene is better for it.

John FM’s American Spirit EP and excellent standalone single “White Science” are available to stream and purchase via Bandcamp, which is one of the most direct ways you can support local musicians. Go to johnfm.bandcamp.com.

More Top Events in Southeast Michigan This Year

Photograph by Jack Bridgland

Mark your brand-new calendar with the dates for these must-do events in music, theater, dance, art, and more.

Jan. 20 • MUSIC
George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic: Singer-songwriter George Clinton made history in the 1970s by blending soul, funk, and elements of ’60s psychedelic rock. Along with 16 members of his Parliament Funkadelic band, Clinton was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 and won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019. His best-known works include “Atomic Dog,” “Flash Light,” and “(Not Just) Knee Deep.” $45+. Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, 250 Madison St., Detroit; musichall.org

Feb. 17-19 • DANCE
Swan Lake: Acclaimed French dancer and choreographer Angelin Preljocaj presents a new take on the classic 19th- century ballet. Tchaikovsky’s iconic score is fused with contemporary musical arrangements in this updated tale, which casts the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart as a menacing industrialist and protagonists Odette and Siegfried as environmental activists. The production’s 26 dancers perform a combination of classical ballet and modern dance. $29+. Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway St., Detroit; detroitopera.org.

Feb. 18 • MUSIC
Black Girl Magic: Co-headliners and Grammy Award-winning R&B singers Monica and Ashanti will share the stage during a concert at the Fox Theatre. Best known for her smash 1998 album The Boy Is Mine, Monica recently collaborated with singer and producer Ty Dolla Sign on the single “Friends.” Ashanti lit up the Billboard charts with her 2002 hit single “Foolish” and has sold nearly 15 million albums worldwide. $48.50+. Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313presents.com.

Feb. 26 • MUSIC
Carrie Underwood: The eight-time Grammy Award winner and three-time Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year will stop at Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena in promotion of her 2022 album Denim and Rhinestones. Fans can expect to hear the country singer’s more recent singles, such as “Ghost Story,” along with chart-topping hits like “Before He Cheats” and “Jesus Take the Wheel.” Singer-songwriter Jimmie Allen will open the show. $39.50+. Little Caesars Arena, 2645 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313presents.com.

March 17-19 • DANCE
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Founded in 1958 by performer and choreographer Alvin Ailey, this NYC-based company aims to explore the African American cultural experience through vibrant modern dance. Now led by Artistic Director Robert Battle, the troupe is known for passionate, exciting, and thought-provoking productions. $29+. Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway St., Detroit; detroitopera.org.

March 24-25 • DANCE
Riverdance: Celebrate 25 years of traditional Irish music and choreography at this anniversary performance. One of the most successful dance productions in the world, Riverdance has visited more than 450 venues worldwide and has performed for more than 25 million fans. Enjoy a stunning reinvention of the classic show, featuring internationally acclaimed dancers and a Grammy Award-winning score. $30+. Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313presents.com.

March 29 • MUSIC
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: The singer-songwriter embarks on his first national tour since 2017, in support of his 2022 album Only the Strong Survive. Boasting a staggering 20 Grammy Awards and more than 64 million albums sold in the U.S. alone, the singer’s back catalog is littered with hits, including “Dancing in the Dark,” “Born in the USA,” and “Glory Days.” $107+. Little Caesars Arena, 2645 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313presents.com.

April 2 • THEATER
Legally Blonde the Musical: The beloved 2001 film gets a Broadway makeover in this charming musical production. Elle Woods’ transformation from sorority girl to high- powered Harvard Law graduate is propelled by memorable songs and stunning choreog- raphy — plus all the humor and heart of the Reese Wither- spoon classic. Nominated for seven Tony Awards, the show has been critically praised for its fun, upbeat spirit. Two showtimes are available. $35+. Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313presents.com.

April 14-15 • COMEDY
Deon Cole: Best known for his role as Charlie Telphy on the acclaimed ABC sitcom Blackish, which earned him two NAACP Image Award nominations and two Screen Actors Guild Awards, this Chicago-born actor and comedian will stop in Detroit for two nights of stand-up comedy. His 2019 Netflix special, Cole Hearted, featured Cole’s hilarious takes on sex, social media, and comedy in the age of cancel culture. $63+. Sound Board at MotorCity Casino Hotel, 2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit; 313presents.com.

April 29-30 • DANCE
The State Ballet of Georgia: International celebrity ballerina Nina Ananiashvili has served as principal dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet, The Royal Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre. She now leads this prestigious Tbilisi, Georgia-based company as it embarks on a rare U.S. tour. The program features works by George Balanchine, one of the most influential choreographers of the 20th century, along with a live orchestra. $29+. Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway St., Detroit; detroitopera.org.

May 9 • MUSIC
Blink-182: Known for turn-of-the-millennium hits like “All the Small Things” and “What’s My Age Again?,” Blink-182 has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide. Now the founding members of everyone’s favorite pop-punk band are reuniting for a worldwide tour. They’ll stop at Little Caesars Arena this spring for a supercharged rock show with Turnstile. $50+. Little Caesars Arena, 2645 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313presents.com.

May 27-29 • MUSIC
Movement: Held in Detroit’s Hart Plaza every Memorial Day weekend since 2006, this annual festival celebrates Detroit’s hallowed place in techno and EDM history by bringing together an expansive bill of DJs and artists. The lineup for this year’s festival has not yet been announced, but attendees can expect to see some of the biggest names in electronic music — along with plenty of surprises. Cost TBA. Hart Plaza, 1 Hart Plaza, Detroit; movementfestival.com.

May 28-Oct. 1 • ART
Accra/London: A Retrospective: Celebrate the historic 60-year career of British Ghanaian photographer James Barnor at this exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts. From studio portraits to photojournalism to Black lifestyle photography, Barnor’s work chronicles the important social and political turmoil that defined Ghana’s midcentury struggle for independence from the United Kingdom. No cost with general admission. Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; dia.org.

July 15 • MUSIC
Ed Sheeran: The superstar singer-songwriter will promote his 2021 album, =, on his first U.S. tour since 2018. Hear the album’s Grammy-nominated single, “Bad Habits,” along with back-catalog standouts like “Shape of You” and “Perfect” when the crooner stops at Detroit’s Ford Field with support from R&B singer Khalid and Armenian singer Rosa Linn. $79+. Ford Field, 2000 Brush St., Detroit; fordfield.com.

July 20-22 • ART
Ann Arbor Art Fair: Spanning 30 city blocks and featuring nearly 1,000 artists, this sum- mer tradition in downtown Ann Arbor is made up of three separate events: the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair, and Ann Arbor State Street Art Fair. As the largest juried art show in the country, it displays works from artists across the U.S. in a variety of mediums, including paint, ceramics, glass, and jewelry. No cost. Downtown Ann Arbor; theannarborartfair.com.

Aug. 29 • MUSIC
Arctic Monkeys: The Sheffield, England-based rockers will bring their stadium-ready sound to the States this summer, following the release of their 2022 album ˆ. The band’s 2006 debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, became the fastest-selling debut in U.K. chart history, thanks to catchy lead single “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor.” Irish post-punk band Fontaines D.C. is along for the ride as a supporting act. $39.50+. Pine Knob Music Theatre, 33 Bob Segar Drive, Clarkston; 313presents.com.

Sept. 1-4 • ART & MUSIC
Soaring Eagle Arts, Beats, and Eats: Hundreds of thousands of Michiganders flock to Royal Oak every Labor Day weekend for this annual celebration of art, food, and music. Expect to see hundreds of bands, from local talent to internationally touring acts, along with regional and national fine artists and dozens of food trucks. The festival also offers kid-friendly activities, local vendors, and a bevy of adult-beverage options. Admission is generally free on Friday before 5 p.m. and between $5 and $10 Saturday-Monday. Downtown Royal Oak; artsbeatseats.com.

Oct. 13-15 • RECREATION
Detroit Free Press Marathon: This annual event offers races for runners of all ages and skill levels. These include a competitive 1-mile run, a 5K race, a half-marathon, and a full marathon. There’s also a Kids’ Fun Run, a Disabilities Division run, and a marathon relay that encourages participants to work in teams. The earlier you register for either the individual races or The Motor City Challenge Series, the lower the prices will be. Prices for the 2022 event ranged from $15 to $400, depending on the race and the date of registration. Downtown Detroit; freepmarathon.com.


This story is from the January 2023 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more in our digital edition