Historical Highlights: Detroit Fox Theatre

Have questions about your project?
We’re here to help!

800.438.4499 Contact Us

Historical Highlights: Detroit Fox Theatre

Europe has the pleasure of holding the history of music and other forms of performance. Europe even holds the first product of motion picture, invented by two cinematographers out of France, the Lumiere brothers. However, it is no secret that the United States has been far more successful in producing and exporting films over the past 100 years. Hollywood contributes to much of the success.

Part of the success has also been attributed to early cinema theatres opening during the early 1900s. In 1928, Detroit, Michigan opened the second-largest theatre in the world. With 5,048 seats and equipped with Fox Film Corporation’s patented sound-on-film system, the Fox Theatre was an incredible architectural structure built into the heart of Detroit.

Architecture

Now the largest surviving theatre built in the 1920s, Fox Theatre has endured the test of time. A marquee replaced during the 1950s adorns the Woodward façade of the theatre and greets guests as they first walk in. Take one of the 16 doors leading into the lobby that opens to impossibly high ceilings and beautiful black and white marble floors. The lobby is just the appetizer to the auditorium.

The oval-shaped, main auditorium is surrounded by intricate arches that conceal pipes from the original organ, massive columns, and decorative gilded plaster of elephants, griffins, dragons, birds, serpents, deities, and more. Protruding from the center of the ceiling details is a 13-foot diameter and two-thousand-pound chandelier, hanging from the tent-like dome. What looks like drapery is solid, painted plaster spills out from the center of the auditorium.

Split between the orchestra-level seating and the upper-level seating, the auditorium is a feat of detail-oriented architecture. What originally held live performances and sound-on-film screenings is still holding plenty of live performances including concerts, comedy shows, and ballets. Still, the opulence of the theatre is something to experience in person.

Split between the orchestra-level seating and the upper-level seating, the auditorium is a feat of detail-oriented architecture. What originally held live performances and sound-on-film screenings is still holding plenty of live performances including concerts, comedy shows, and ballets. Still, the opulence of the theatre is something to experience in person.

History

When built in 1928, the Fox Theatre was an incredible project and building for the Fox Film Corporation. During the 1930s and World War II, 35-cent tickets would bring in around $75,000 per week when staying open 24 hours to accommodate all the different worker’s shifts. Time wore on the theatre. By the 1970s, the building began to show its age. Starting in 1980, the project to restore the building began. The first show after the restoration was the concert with Joe Williams and the Count Basie Orchestra.

As listed before, the Fox Theatre did more than film showings, however, it was their main reason for opening and staying open. Live performances would sell out the theatre, including performances from Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and Motown artists during their heyday.

Elvis Presley is known for bringing in an audience of over 12,000 screaming fans in the theatre that could only sit 5,000. Some performances in the theatre were recorded and broadcast on Showtime cable network and PBS.

Modern Fox Theatre

Today, the Fox Theatre is a hub for live performances. During the year, they will host fine art evenings, comedy shows including comedians like Jeff Dunham or Steve Martin, children’s shows like Bluey, and nationally touring artists. The theatre puts on spring and winter musical productions. Most recent productions have been How the Grinch Stole Christmas for their Christmas musical and Annie as their spring musical.

As for special events, the theatre hosted the 2019, two-night, primary debate for candidates seeking a democratic nomination for the 2020 presidential race. Just a few months ago the NFL draft took place in Detroit, where the Fox Theatre played the role of the red carpet for NFL prospects. It created a grand welcome for all the potential incoming players and families.

As a successful result of preservation and some TLC, the Fox Theatre remains a spectacle of design. Since the Fox Theatre was declared a national historic landmark in 1989, Money allocated to the building will pay for any future repairs or restoration projects to keep the building functioning as it should. It is safe to say this building, the architecture, and the history are not going anywhere.

Get weekly tips to make your events better. Subscribe here:

 

June 19, 2024

Building from the Ground Up: Festival Staging

Posted in Stages & Risers, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

June 5, 2024

4 Impacts that High-Quality Equipment has in Performance Arts Education

Posted in Stages & Risers, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

May 23, 2024

7 FAQ’s to Choose the Right Crowd Control Barriers

Posted in Event, Stages & Risers | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Check Us Out

View Events
No Events