Broadway Musical 'In the Heights' Comes to Royal Oak


Stagecrafters proudly presents "In the Heights," from the creator of Broadway's hit musical, "Hamilton," Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Miranda conceived the music and lyrics, and also the book by Quiara Alegria Hudes. The story is set over the course of three days in New York City's Washington Heights. Characters in a largely Dominican-American vibrant neighborhood are on the brink of change where dreams are big, ambition is strong, and money is hard to come by. A winning lottery ticket could potentially change the livelihood of the community forever. This exhilarating bi-lingual sensation pulsates with Latin rhythms and hip-hop, and electrifies with exuberant street-dance thus deserving of the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical.

The show is scheduled for Jan. 20-22, 26-29, and Feb. 2-5, 10-12. Tickets are $23 Friday-Saturday, and $25 on Sunday. For more information about Stagecrafters, 415 South Lafayette, Royal Oak, call 248-541-6430 or visit www.stagecrafters.org.

Former Royal Oak Mayor Jim Ellison Was Proud to Protect LGBT Rights

Royal Oak's longest-serving mayor, Jim Ellison, stepped down from the City Commission, set to prep for his next political post: state representative. Michael Fournier was sworn in Dec. 12 as the next mayor of Royal Oak.

Ellison, 64, is to become state Rep. Ellison at noon Jan. 1 in Lansing, after tucking more than a quarter-century of experience in local government under his belt. A Detroit Free Press article highlights Ellison's time in office, and during his tenure on key city committees, Royal Oak has seen spectacular growth.

Brushing off the barbs of critics, the largely pro-development Ellison helped Royal Oak reinvent its sleepy downtown as a drinking-and-dining destination. And he watched it unleash, since the Great Recession, a run of residential construction virtually unmatched by any other metro Detroit community on a new-housing-per-capita basis in 2013-15 (2016 figures were incomplete). Along the way, he chaired the regional committee that launched the Woodward Dream Cruise...but ask Ellison about his proudest moments and you won't hear about new restaurants and nightclubs, nor about the new stores and bank branches on Woodward that replaced seedy motels and other dated sites, nor about the millions of dollars in new housing.

You'll hear about the issue that jammed Royal Oak with visitors from across southeast Michigan and beyond, many of them ready to wring Ellison's neck but for the heavy police presence. It's the city's human rights ordinance, forbidding discrimination against gays and lesbians, which city voters passed in 2013 after years of rancorous debate.

"I'm very proud that we got that passed --- that was always high on my agenda," Ellison said Dec. 12, before his last city meeting. Read the full story online at www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/oakland/2016/12/14/royal-oaks-longest-serving-mayor-heads-state-house/95358754/.

Drag Queen Bingo Moves to a New Square

Five15 will be attached to Pronto Restaurant

Five15 cafe on Washington Avenue, known for its entertaining and popular Drag Queen Bingo nights, is getting ready to move. The new location will be a vacant corner store attached to Pronto restaurant and operate under the restaurant's liquor license, according to The Daily Tribune.

Gary Baglio, co-owner of Five15, which operates as a coffee shop, book and gift shop during the day, is hoping to be moved in to the new space at Pronto by March or April 2017.

"I want to turn it into a nice cabaret," he said.

Pronto will still keep its restaurant, though a redesign is in the works, and supply all food and alcohol to Five15 events.

Baglio said the new location will not change what he does at Five15, but it is bound to quench a long-denied thirst among his customers during Drag Queen Bingo events.

Five15 does about half its business with its cafe and other sales, he added.

The special bingo nights with drag queens have been a steady attraction and drawn capacity crowds since they began shortly after Baglio's business opened in 2007.

"They have sold out for eight years," he said.

The new location will increase the size of Five15 from 1,500 to 2,500 square feet, he added.

City Commissioners this week approved a request from Pronto's owners for a change in operations under the terms of their liquor license.

"Five15 is one of the gems of Royal Oak," said City Commissioner Kyle DuBuc.

Police had no objections and expected no extra demand on police services from the location change.

City officials said Pronto's owners were unsure what to do with the vacant corner store space at their business.

"I think it is going to be a great addition," said Kelly Allen, an attorney for Pronto.

Carol Hennessey, a longtime Royal Oak volunteer and organizer of the Memorial Day parade and other events, supported Baglio's move.

"Gary has shown much support for the community," she said. "It will really make that corner store look much better than it has."

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