IN THE LATE 1920s and early 1930s, the Fox Theatre featured vaudeville-like shows as well as movies. Among the performers: These dancers known as the “Sunkist Beauties.”


IF YOU’VE EVER WONDERED what hidden treasures and stories lie behind the glowing marquee of Atlanta’s Fox Theatre, you have a new chance to discover it all.

This spring, the historic movie palace known for its performing arts and architectural history, once again began hosting regular tours, this time with highly trained guides who know the venue inside and out. The tours are one way the Fox keeps its promise to preserve and share the theater with Atlantans, the people who have kept it running for more than three decades.

THE SHRINE power room. Photo: Sara Foltz

A bonus: The new tours include two previously unseen locations, a spot in the main auditorium near the stage and the original ballroom kitchen where the original ice box still sits.

“We are very excited to share this historical landmark with our Atlanta patrons and those visiting our great city,” says Allan Vella, Fox president and CEO. “As the only historic theatre in the country with a full-time, in-house restoration department, we take pride in preserving and maintaining the Fox for future generations.”

Visitors will take a 60-minute guided tour that showcases must-see details of the Fox, which opened Christmas Day in 1929, and its history. Visitors will see at least 10 locations, from the orchestra pit, historic elevator and Oasis Court, to the Mighty Mo’ organ and the Men’s Lounge, with its original furniture. They’ll learn how Atlantans rose up in the 1960s and ’70s to save the landmark from becoming a parking lot and they’ll walk the same halls once traveled by Elvis, the Rolling Stones and Madonna.

The Fox was commissioned and built by the Shriners, a fraternity for men, who intended to build their own mosque in Atlanta. Despite its intricate detail, the building took just 18 months to complete. Every room reflects inspiration from ancient Egypt and the Middle East — from the authentic hieroglyphics on the ceiling in the Egyptian Ballroom to the auditorium designed to look like the open courtyard of a Middle Eastern palace. The Egyptian Ballroom, in particular, is embellished with more than 500 hand-carved symbols including a ceiling covered with stars, which symbolizes the deceased pharaohs of Egypt. The ballroom, a popular place for romantics, often hosts weddings and rehearsal dinners (capacity: up to 800).

The Grand Salon, another mosaic mystery included in the tour, was originally designed for the exclusive use of the Yaarab temple, covered with roughly 3,350 square feet of terrazzo floors composed mainly of crushed marble. Despite suffering smoke damage in 1996, the skylight’s stained glass panels have been replaced and restored and now the Grand Salon can hold up to 300 people and is available for private event rentals.


Tours take place at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. noon and 1 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays, and 10 and 11 a.m. Saturdays. Tickets are $15 to $18 (age 10 and under free).  For tour times and tickets, visit the Fox box office, or call 855.ATL.TIXX. To book a group tour (20 or more), call 404. 881.2100. Visit


About Kathy Janich

Kathy Janich is a longtime arts journalist who has been seeing, working in or writing about the performing arts for most of her life. She's a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, Americans for the Arts and the National Arts Marketing Project. Full disclosure: She’s also an artistic associate at Synchronicity Theatre.

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