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Emagine Royal Oak to host shows pending full Hollywood reboot

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Emagine Entertainment is hosting a series of live shows this spring while it waits for Hollywood to bring the big screen back to life.

Beginning with an April 9 performance by local blues artist Laith Al-Saadi, the cinema has booked shows over two weekends next month with plans to add more based on demand, said Paul Glantz, co-founder and president of Emagine.

The shows will be performed in the EMAX theater with a capacity of 255 people, which will be limited to 125 people. The same social distancing protocols for movies will be in place for live shows, Glantz said.

“Hollywood isn’t giving us a very strong hand these days,” Glantz said, referring to film production being cut off due to the pandemic. “It was a great way to get the most out of our site.”

The staging of live music and comedy marks another creative use of theatrical space, which has remained unused for much of the past year due to the pandemic and state-ordered closures that led to a legal confrontation between Glantz and Governor Gretchen Whitmer. At some point in early fall, Emagine’s Royal Oak location was supposed to serve as a distance learning site until the city’s building department shut it down for being against the code.

When asked if the theater is suitable for hosting live performances, CEO Anthony LaVerde said in an email: “We believe this fits into our current plan of operations.”

The next shows are:

  • Laith Al-Saadi, April 9 at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $ 70.
  • Spencer James, April 10 at 10 p.m. Tickets start at $ 15.
  • Kari Holmes and Lisa Mary, April 16 at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $ 15.
  • Nicole New and Ben Sharkey, April 17 at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $ 25.
  • The Three Men and a Tenor, April 18 at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $ 30.

As movie theaters have suffered heavy financial losses and a continuing drought of blockbuster movies, Glantz said he looks forward to a brilliant result. Film production is picking up speed as Hollywood’s largest markets, including Southern California and New York, are reopening.

Most of Emagine’s theaters, including 11 in Michigan, are only open four days a week. Glantz said he expects business to pick up by July.

“I am convinced that we will benefit from a fairly strong recovery,” he said.

Live entertainment, meanwhile, could face a more difficult comeback. Capacity restrictions continue to hamper the industry as big moves await more definitive rules from government and health officials before hitting the road again. Many shows this year have been pushed back to late summer and early fall.

Tickets for Emgaine’s shows can be purchased on its website.

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