In my former life as a DINK (double-income-no-kids) in NYC, I worked as a freelance video editor on commercials, freelance writer and worked a 2-year-stint as the Multimedia Director at a Broadway marketing firm that sent tours around the country including to the Fox Theatre.
So it’s an understatement to say I have a big soft spot for Atlanta’s answer to Broadway. And I can also say that after sitting in all of the Broadway theaters in New York (and most of the off-Broadway and even some off-off-Broadway) that the Fox Theatre in Atlanta is dazzling. We are unbelievably lucky to have this place in our city.
A Brief Spectacularlar History of the Fox Theatre
The Fox Theatre is inexplicably big for a city like Atlanta but was actually a former movie palace. In 1928, the Fox Theatre was the home of Atlanta’s Shriners. The group wanted an opulent headquarters for its prominent social status and wanted to emulate Far Eastern mosques and temples. That’s why the architecture and design of Atlanta’s Fox Theatre are full of gems inspired by Alhambra in Spain and Egypt’s Temple of Karnak. This place is fantastical in a way that I’ve rarely seen, and I’ve also been in plenty of theaters around the world.
The theatre cost the equivalent of nearly $40 million in today’s dollars and houses the largest Möller organ in the world (that beauty has 3,622 pipes!) Although it drew huge crowds in its movie palace heyday, it was no match for the Great Depression and its founder William Fox declared bankruptcy and lost the palace. It still held on for a bit and hosted films and live performances after being sold to a private company. But by 1974, the Fox closed up shop and it was almost sold off for demolition to house the Bell South tower. A non-profit assembled to help save the Fox, and one of its key players and later the Fox’s Technical Director, Joe Patten, lived in an apartment in the Fox until he passed away in 2016.
I grew up in Atlanta and had no idea Joe Patten lived there until I was living in New York. My understanding is his living quarters were located off of the Egyptian Ballroom inside the Fox. My hope is the “Phantom of the Fox” as he’s known lives on at the Fox.
What Kids Should See & Do at the Fox Theatre
If you haven’t taken the kids yet, the Fox Theatre is a must. It’s like a really ultra sophisticated child with impeccable design sense dreamed it up and brought it to fruition.
Come to a Sing-a-Long
This is hands-down the best thing you should do at the Fox Theatre with your kids. A movie sing-along at the Fox Theatre is an Atlanta institution and everyone should go at least once (or 12 times really). My daughter went for the first time when she was 4-years-old to see Frozen and it was the stuff memories that make you cry and think your kids are growing up way too fast are made of.
We got there early and immediately got in line to meet Ms. Anna and Elsa themselves for a photo op. When there are princess’ movies, there are bound to be princesses there to hang-out and get in on the fun. Look for the Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival at the Fox to see more kid-friendly films like Harry Potter and Beauty and the Beast. Though not always sing-alongs, they’re also pretty fabulous.
See a Theatre Performance
My daughter has been able to sit through theater and puppet show performances since she was a newly minted 3-year-old, but it’s not for every kid. If you think your little ones (or older kids) would enjoy a longer theatre performance, I highly recommend it.
Come early to get settled and stock up on some “please sit quietly bribes” like candy or popcorn. Theater performances vary, but shows have included shows like Shopkins Live and The Lion King.
Take a Tour
I admit that I would not take my (at the time of writing this) 2 1/2-year-old on a tour of the Fox unless I was just really, really in the mood to chase around a feral monkey and get in some exercise trying to keep him from destroying the place. I’m not totally sure I would take my 5 1/2-year-old either. But it’s a really interesting and fun tour for grown-ups and probably older kids can deal with it if you promise to take them next door at Publik Draft House to get a burger afterward.
You’ll learn all kinds of cool things on a tour of the Fox Theatre in Atlanta including a glimpse at the old nurse’s station. And it turns out Mrs. Fox furnished much of the furniture in the theatre, making it seem both opulent and homey. You know, if you think of what a fantastical mansion would look like if it were homey.
Book your tour of the Fox Theatre in Atlanta here.
What is your favorite thing to do at the Fox Theatre? Let me know by leaving a comment below!
Image: Wikimedia Commons