Redford Theatre fans got a double dose of fun on Saturday, April 4, 2009. The anarchy and silliness of the Three Stooges was spiced with anticipation for a win by the Michigan State University men’s basketball team in the NCAA Final Four, taking place only a few miles away in downtown Detroit.
Greg Sumner, Master of Ceremonies for the evening show, perfectly described the excitement:
Epic Night at the Redford!
I have seen a lot of happy crowds in my sixteen years as a Redford Theatre fan, but none more joyous than the one that packed the building Saturday night, April 4. The audience was already rollicking as I took the stage for announcements just after eight o’clock that evening, happy that we had made it at last to spring.
The air of anticipation, especially among the many youngsters in the crowd, was intense, as they awaited the “nyuk nyuk nyuk’s” of Larry, Moe and Curly in our semi-annual Three Stooges bash. Some people were out in the aisles, bopping to the infectious polka stylings of Lance Luce at the Barton organ.
But what really lifted us all to the stratosphere that night was the news that filtered in from the NCAA Final Four game downtown. While a national audience saw the city of Detroit at its gleaming best, and 72,000 cheered the Michigan State Spartans to an improbable victory over UConn, 700+ Redford patrons followed the action with their hearts.
When I came out at the start of intermission to announce the final score, the explosion of joy I heard gave me goose-bumps, and seemed like it might just blow the roof off the building. It was a party all evening. Everybody—even University of Michigan fans like myself—embraced the Green and White, and people smiled and greeted each other with genuine affection as they milled about the lobby buying their popcorn, t-shirts and 50/50 tickets.
When the lights dimmed again, it seemed to me the gut-busting laughter was even more uproarious than ever. Most of the crowd stuck around late into the evening, for the bonus seventh Stooges short we had for them.
I think this Monday morning especially of the first-time visitors, and the conversations they must be having with their friends, neighbors and coworkers about their experience at the show. The children who were there have a memory of good times with their families in Detroit that they will never forget.
Regardless of the final outcome of the tournament finale tonight, Saturday was a magical evening in Detroit, a ray of bright sunshine and togetherness in these tough times, and the Redford Theater, brought to life by the loving dedication of its volunteers, played its part.
Copyright © 2009 by Robert Hollberg Smith, Jr.