Category: Arts and Culture

Movie Star’s Michigan Hometown Makes Great Winter Weekend Escape

The Jiffy storage silos tower 135 feet above Chelsea’s Main Street, a symbol of the role that the world’s leading manufacturer of baking mix has in the community. Just seeing the brand’s familiar blue and white boxes evokes feelings of an earlier era, such that Jiffy has been labeled in business circles as “retro hip.”

The grain silos at Chelsea Milling Co. stand over 135 feet tall.

You might say the same about Chelsea itself. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, downtown Chelsea features an eclectic mix of shopping, dining, arts and entertainment — all in a walkable space that feels like you’re strolling through a Norman Rockwell painting.

Chelsea truly is something else, a great place in Michigan to discover something special.

In the midst of the holiday rush, keep in mind that not every gift can be ordered online, packaged in a box and shipped to your door. Nor should it. Sometimes, the most extraordinary gifts are something else — something outside the box.

How about sharing the experience of a small-town getaway this winter? Follow this guide to plan an excursion to Chelsea in a jiffy:

Vibrant arts

As a historic place, downtown Chelsea itself is a gallery of art featuring quaint streets lined with Victorian homes and a business district with beautiful Italianate architecture. It looks like the set of a movie.

Emmy Award-winner Jeff Daniels, a Chelsea native, founded The Purple Rose Theatre in 1991.

Chelsea also is the setting for The Purple Rose Theatre, which brings original works by Michigan artists as well as American classics to the stage. The professional theatre company founded by actor/singer/playwright Jeff Daniels, a Chelsea native, performs in an intimate, 168-seat venue right downtown.

Daniels’ own “Diva Royale” is being performed at The Purple Rose through Dec. 29, with the curtain set to go up Jan. 17-March 16 on the world premiere of “Never Not Once.” The Purple Rose 2018-2019 season also features Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” from April 4 through June 1 and the world premiere of “Welcome to Paradise” from June 20 to Aug. 31. Performances are nightly from Thursday through Saturday, with matinees on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Get tickets here.




Whatever your palate and dining style, you can find a restaurant you’ll love in downtown Chelsea. For fine dining, Common Grill is routinely ranked as one of southeast Michigan’s best restaurants. People travel from all over for the upscale bistro’s premier seafood and seasonal menu, and it does not disappoint.

Try local craft beers at the Chelsea Alehouse Brewery or go for craft spirits at Ugly Dog Distillery.

If your mouth waters for an old-fashioned burger or steak, stop by Cleary’s Pub. The classic Irish pub features outstanding food and live music in a space with old brick walls and a turn-of-the-century original tin ceiling.

Smokehouse 52 BBQ this fall was voted one of the 10 best barbecue restaurants in Michigan. The all-American BBQ sports a cow hanging from the sign outside the door.

For local craft beer paired with bites from a deli-style kitchen, check out Chelsea Alehouse Brewery, which hosts live music on Wednesday nights this winter. Across the street you can sip craft spirits at Ugly Dog Distillery.

Valiant Bar & Grill is a new sports bar that opens in December with a perfect mix of food, drink and sports. The diverse menu features everything from All-American burgers to Mediterranean cuisine to Tex-Mex along with a variety of beers, specialty cocktails and wines.

Pizza lovers will enjoy classic hometown pies at Thompson’s Pizzeria. And, in Chelsea, the Michigan chain Jet’s Pizza takes the form of a sports bar with unique craft beers and live music in The Rumpus Room next door.

Live music and open mics also are hosted regularly at Zou Zou’s Café in a French-themed setting where you can pair delicious cinnamon rolls and scones with a beer.

RELATED: This is what happens when Michigan housewives go looking for romance in Big Apple!

Unique shops

Whether you’re on the hunt for that perfect Christmas gift or shopping for yourself, there’s something for everyone in downtown Chelsea. If someone on your list is a challenge to buy for, check out Bumble’s Dry Goods. The store offers all kinds of hard-to-find items, unique artwork and homemade furniture.

Speaking of furniture and home décor, Merkel Furniture offers three stories of it in downtown Chelsea and is an inspiring place to wander around and dream. La Maison is a boutique home décor store that features Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan and holds workshops on refinishing furniture.

 Elsewhere downtown you can browse the shelves at Serendipity Books, peruse old-world quality at La Jolla Fine Jewelry, find a one-of-a-kind pieces at Chelsea Antiques or visit the fitting rooms at one of Chelsea’s boutique clothing stores to try out a new style (inspired, perhaps, by the costume design at The Purple Rose!). Then, take a break and unwind at Wines on Main, be pampered at Amber Indigo Facials, grab a snack at Chelsea Bakery or treat yourself at Hair By Trios, a certified organic salon.

Extraordinary activities

On Feb. 8-9, Chelsea will transform into the world headquarters of chocolate and curling. The community will set up four sheets of ice for the Curling Fest that involves competition, lessons, beer, food trucks and fire pits. That same weekend is the Chocolate Extravaganza when stores in Chelsea give out free samples of everything chocolate.

Chelsea Milling Co. has been making Jiffy baking mix for 90 years.

Just outside of town in Michigan’s largest state park in the Lower Peninsula you can find some of the best mountain biking and hiking around. The DTE Energy Foundation Trail inside the Waterloo Recreation Area features more than 20 miles of trails, including one loop that’s been named the best in Michigan. The recreation area also is home to the Eddy Discovery Center, a nature center with hiking loops through Michigan’s great outdoors.

And, of course, the Jiffy Mix plant is open for tours. “It’s actually fascinating to watch them fill thousands of boxes of mix,” said Monica Monsma, executive director of the Chelsea Area Chamber of Commerce. “It’s really a huge operation. They’re one of our largest employers and it’s what we’re really known for.”

Relaxing places to stay

The Chelsea House Victorian Inn is just a few steps away from The Purple Rose Theatre in downtown Chelsea.

Just a few steps from The Purple Rose and the rest of downtown, Chelsea House Victorian Inn bed-and-breakfast offers period-decorated rooms and an intimate carriage house suite. So much of the home’s interior, from the woodwork to the furniture, is original to the 19th century with details perfectly preserved.

A short drive out of town is the Waterloo Gardens Bed & Breakfast, a country inn in a beautiful setting close to hiking and biking trails and near the Triple Crane Monastery that offers yoga and meditation classes.

If a B&B isn’t your style, check in to the Chelsea Comfort Inn where you can relax in an in-room whirlpool or lounge by the indoor pool.

Start building your small-town Michigan getaway with tickets to a Purple Rose play and go from there!

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

Michigan Concerts Launch Brazilian Musicians First U.S. Tour

From their Rio De Janeiro music studio, Augusto Ordine and Maíra Martins know they can expect two things from Michigan crowds when they kick off their first North American tour in January.

“Cold weather and warm audiences,” Ordine says with a laugh.

The pair, the principal singers in Ordinarius, a seven-member vocal and percussion group, will battle the former and encourage the latter with a unique, yet traditional Brazilian sound that blends South American a cappella harmonies with rich percussion and an electric stage presence.

Ordinarius launches its tour in Michigan as the second stop on the expedition comes to the Midland Center for the Arts on January 9. The performance is two days after a stop in Ann Arbor and before the group heads off for eight other shows in Minnesota, Iowa and California.

Martins said the group has gained some U.S. exposure through YouTube videos and social media, including a cover of the Backstreet Boys “As Long As You Love Me,” which was noticed by the boy band and promoted on their channels.

“People started to look for us,” Ordine said.

And while that discovery propelled their fanbase to a worldwide stage, the artists say it hasn’t changed their approach.

“We are still very much a vocal group that focuses on Brazilian music and honoring where we came from,” Martins said. “We want people to feel the music and identify and connect with it.”

Ordinarius has been successful on that front in Brazil and beyond, earning critical acclaim and a second-place finish in a National Vocal Group Competition in 2012. A CD release was named one of the 100 best of the year for the Brazilian Music Awards. The following year, the singers performed across Europe and South America. In 2014, they returned to the National Vocal Group competition and won the contest.

Commercial success has not necessarily followed as it’s hard to get a foothold on the radio or other media as some American groups like Pentatonix and Straight No Chaser have domestically. The performances, however, are equally as stirring and experiential.

“We have the authenticity and the ability to bond with people by presenting a palette of different and unique sounds,” Ordine said. “It’s quite rewarding to make music you want to make and not worry if it’s going to sell or not.”

On its U.S. tour, Ordinarius will perform the music of Carmen Miranda, a Brazilian who burst to  American stardom with her singing and dancing in the 1930s. Their repertoire will also mix in some cover tunes, including Stevie Wonder, but Martins said that’s not the backbone of their catalog.

“When we do that, we never sing a song the way it’s been recorded,” She says. “It’s very different, with our own touch on it.”

The pair believe the use of percussion and the blending of six incredible voices will allow them to bond with audiences. In some sense, they’ll feel out the crowd as they perform and lean on music that resonates with those who are familiar are new to the group.

“We want everyone to leave feeling good, like they’ve seen something they never had before,” Ordine said.

Buy tickets for Ordinarius’ only show in Mid-Michigan here.

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

Before “Hamilton” Visit these Greater Lansing Arts and Culture Hot Spots

The announcement that the Broadway hit “Hamilton” will visit the Wharton Center’s Cobb Great Hall in May 2019 generated a huge buzz, but it is what happened before and what will take place later that equally excites Debbie Mikula.

Mikula, from her role as chief executive of the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, has watched the entire arts and culture scene in Michigan’s capital city flourish since she took the helm of the advocacy group in 2013.

“What we have in Lansing is really rare,” Mikula said. “The arts bring us all together and help build the fabric of a community. We have such talented individual artists that paint, perform and create, and then we have the organizations that support such a robust and vibrant diversity of events and activities that make us a great place to live, work, play and visit.

“The building blocks have been in place, and now it just keeps expanding and that’s a wonderful thing to see.”

Greater Lansing, as the third-largest metropolitan area in the state, is an arts and culture powerhouse with first-rate amenities and a commitment to creativity that is unmatched. In a region that is 90 miles away from 90 percent of Michigan’s population, Lansing can claim:

  • Having the state’s largest performing arts venue in the Wharton Center
  • The internationally acclaimed Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University
  • A symphony orchestra operating continuously since 1929
  • A walking sculpture tour of nearly 30 permanently installed pieces
  • A vast offering of art galleries, local theater and music venues

The arts have proven to be both a place-making epicenter for people living in Greater Lansing as well as an economic engine for the region. Estimates place the impact at $147 million per year when people dine at area restaurants, stay the night at hotels and spend on incidentals while experiencing cultural events.

Take a closer look at what Lansing offers and plan your visit with this list of tips and event calendar:

The Wharton Center for Performing Arts: The Wharton is Michigan’s premier facility for touring Broadway shows, with the previously mentioned blockbuster ‘Hamilton’ on the way from May 14 to June 2, but the center also has three other stages for theatre, dance and musical performances. The venerable hits “School of Rock” runs from Sept. 18-23, the Phantom of the Opera sequel “Love Never Dies” takes the stage Oct. 9-14 and “Fiddler on the Roof” from Dec. 4-8 are among the shows preceding Lyn Manuel Miranda’s hit. Tickets to all shows can be found here.

Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum: The contemporary museum, which opened in 2012 on the Michigan State University campus, presents thought provoking exhibitions across all mediums, bringing local artists to light and drawing national shows to mid-Michigan. The museum also has educational classes and seminars to boost public understanding of arts and culture. The striking building is an exploration of the senses in itself and was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid.

Lansing Symphony Orchestra: On the cusp of its 90th year, the orchestra is one of Michigan’s longest running professional troupe and its leadership takes pride in presenting classical masterpieces as well as a range of modern music that touch audiences. Performances by internationally known guest artists supplement the standing Pops and Chambers series. The symphony jazz band further diversifies the organization’s cultural reach.

Lansing Community College Sculpture Walk: Nearly 30 sculptures, carefully crafted and strategically placed in and around the school’s downtown campus, provide a scenic and leisurely walk for the arts-minded visitor, a meeting attendee looking for a break or a business professional stretching their legs. All the pieces have ties to students, faculty or alumni from LCC. The signature “Red Ribbon in the Sky” juts 30 feet into the air and is a centerpiece of the display. The college also has more than 600 piece of other art that is accessible in public spaces.

Local galleries, theatres and festivals: Lansing’s neighborhoods are a hotbed of independent art galleries, community theatres and festivals that built an atmosphere for creatively in arts, music and food. From Old Town to REO Town and East Lansing, there are delightful discoveries to find something in everyone’s wheelhouse. The suburban cities of Eaton Rapids, Williamston, Charlotte and St. Johns, among others, have all created public performances and developed local arts elements that supplement the Capital region.

Coming in 2019: The Capital Region Community Foundation has funded a $100,000 project to place a new piece of art in the roundabout at Washington Square and Michigan Avenue. The sculpture chosen for the high-profile location, with a direct view to and from the Capitol building, will be a public vote of sorts with foundation asking for opinions once finalists are selected.

Public murals: Multiple wall-size murals have sprung up in Greater Lansing in recent years. Among the highlights are the “Under the Bridge Project,” a set of four 50-by-25-foot pieces under the US-127 overpass along Michigan Avenue. This stretch of roadway that links East Lansing and Lansing was transformed by artist Brian Whitfield, who used community history to create colorful images that are highlighted by changing shades of lighting. There’s also a jazz and blues festival-inspired, two-story piece painted by teen art students in the heart of Old Town Lansing on the building that houses the Arts Council.

The deliberate intent to raise the awareness of the arts is found in all corners of the region as people look for connections and a high quality of life, Mikula said.

“We know that people choose vacations or take jobs based on what’s available in the city,” she said. “We’re seeing the change, we’re seeing the transformation of the arts that draws people to Lansing.”

Find out how much more Lansing has to discover here.

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.