Private events space takes shape at Flagstar Strand Theatre in downtown Pontiac

When you think of the Flagstar Strand Theatre in downtown Pontiac, you might think of the $20 million renovation that brought the historic theater back to life in 2017. You might even think of history itself, the theater having first opened in the 1920s before closing in the 1980s and then, after a brief re-opening, closing again in the 1990s.

Then there are the shows. Upcoming events include performances of Walk On: The Story of Rosa Parks and Broadway’s Next Hit Musical on Feb. 22 and March 7, respectively. And 1990s swing music revivalists Big Bad Voodoo Daddy have a concert there on March 27.

But the theater is more than just a theater. A little-publicized upstairs event space is being re-energized with a branding effort that will give the space its own name. Known internally as The Mezz, theater officials are leaning toward naming the space the 2nd at Strand.

The Auburn Hills Chamber of Commerce is hosting a grand opening celebration for the space on Wednesday, Jan. 22.

The second floor of the Strand is a multi-use space rentable for private parties and events. Where the main theater fits 880 people, the upstairs space can fit up to 250 for open floor plan events like strolling dinners.

Catering is provided by nearby Lafayette Market. A small stage is being built. And an adjacent Director’s Room features a screening area with surround sound.

"Our business model is three-tiered. We present shows that we bring in. We work with promoters that bring shows. And we open the theater for rentals," says Ben Frick, managing director for the Flagstar Strand Theatre.

"Whatever kind of event you have, we can house it here within one of our spaces."

The Second at Strand is located in the Flagstar Strand Theatre for the Performing Arts in downtown Pontiac.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.