When the foam settles and the smoke clears, you may realize there’s more to do around here than sink plastic balls into plastic cups or hook up with whatever moderately attractive people you find yourself alone with. Once you start digging a little deeper into the area’s cultural offerings, you’ll find it’s no Chicago (or even Detroit), but there’s still a wealth of art, music, theater, literature — and a tiny bit of film — to help keep you sated. If you don’t see what you are looking for here, a database of local arts institutions is available at www.lansingarts.org.
For your visual stimulation, the Lansing area is home to several galleries, displaying everything from the crafty to the cutting edge (and sometimes both). Most galleries host a reception on the first Sunday afternoon of the month, some on a Friday night. (See Page 25 for this month’s exhibits and receptions). If you’re not interested in venturing off campus, MSU and LCC art students have been known to turn out some eye-popping work, and MSU’s Kresge Art Museum is the place in town to see some masterpieces by world-class painters, sculptors and more. Also, a tip for poor college freshmen: art receptions = free food. (At least the good ones do.)
Mid-Michigan is theater crazy. With two professional companies, two college departments and a handful of community groups, there’s always something on stage. Lucky for students, some of the best stuff comes out of the LCC and MSU Theatre departments, so you can support your fellow students and don’t have to travel far to be entertained. You can keep up with the productions at www.lcc.edu/hpa/events and www.theatre.msu.edu. For edgier fare offcampus, try Icarus Falling Theatre Ensemble (www. icarusfalling.com), Peppermint Creek Theatre Co. (www.peppermintcreek.org) or Riverwalk Theatre’s Black Box series (www.riverwalktheatre.com).
If you want the big time song and dance, the Wharton Center is the place for touring Broadway shows. This season’s lineup includes “A Chorus Line,” “South Pacific” and “Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein.” www. whartoncenter.com.
It doesn’t boast much of a club scene, but East Lansing is still an epicenter of jazz music, thanks to renowned MSU Professors of Jazz Rodney Whitaker and Wessell “Warmdaddy” Anderson, who both spent time in superstar trumpeter Wynton Marsalis’ band before making the jump to academia at MSU. Keep an eye out for concerts by the Professors, as well as the College of Music’s many jazz combos, on campus and off.
MSU’s College of Music also hosts regular orchestra, chamber and opera programs, many of which are discounted or free for students. www. music.msu.edu.
For more adventurous ears, listen up for LCC’s New Music Ensemble for everything from original compositions to works by Philip Glass, John Cage and Miles Davis’ electric music. www.lcc.edu/hpa/ events.
For classical music by the pros, check out the Lansing Symphony Orchestra at one of its MasterWorks concerts, held at the Wharton Center. A good introduction for the college-rock set could be the season-opening concert featuring Christopher O’Riley, best known for his interpretations of Radiohead and Elliot Smith tunes, on Sept. 12. www.lansingsymphony.org
If words are you thing, Schuler Books & Music could be your regular shelf. The Michigan-based retailer has two Lansing area locations that regularly host best-selling authors and book groups, from mystery clubs to comic book discussions. www. schulerbooks.com. If you like your lines delivered in verse, check out the Center for Poetry in MSU’s Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, which hosts visiting poets for readings and workshops, and also throws a poetry week in April. www.rcah.msu.edu/sights/poetry.php.
Movie snobs bemoan Lansing’s lack of a proper art house theater, where they could bask in the additional glow of subtitles or a slow crawl through the latest documentary. But all is not lost. Once a year, the East Lansing Film Festival presents nearly a full week of new, under-the-radar cinema. While this year’s festival has been postponed until November of 2010, the East Lansing Film Society, an offshoot of the fest, intermittently screens some of the more noteworthy indie and foreign films throughout the year just before or as they are released to DVD. www.elff.com.