Kool Kat of the Week: Rediscovering the Magic of the Fabulous Fox Theatre Through the Atlanta Preservation Center’s Walking Tour.

Posted on: Jun 19th, 2012 By:

This ornate lamp is just one of the 1000 magical design details in the Fox Theatre. Photo Credit: Jaclyn Cook.

By Lisa Stock
Contributing Writer

Can a building be a Kool Kat? If you know the Fabulous Fox Theatre as intimately as we do, we think you’ll say a resounding “yes!” After writing, directing and producing several fairy tale-inspired films (TITANIA, THE JULES VERNE PROJECT) and an unique experiential play of Neil Gaiman’s SNOW, GLASS, APPLES, we figured contributing writer Lisa Stock knows something about stage magic, so we asked her to take one of the Atlanta Preservation Center‘s walking tours and report back… 

As locals we’ve all been to the Fox Theatre, whether to see movies, concerts, or to show it off to visiting relatives. We love to sit under its starry sky and touch the wheel of the nautical ticket chomper as we enter. We drive past it every day, it’s always been there, and after almost losing it in the 1970s, we hope it always will be.

When I worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Annenberg Collection had acquired Van Gogh’s “Wheatfield with Crows.” It was exceptional. I ran past it every day on my way from one office to another, directed tourists to its gallery, confirmed that—yes it had been sold for $53 million and went on my way. Until one day at lunch I went in the gallery and sat in front of it—for about an hour. One of the curators was there and told me its story: where it had been painted, at what point in Van Gogh’s life, that there were several other versions, but this one had not been seen for 100 years because it had been in private ownership. Its thousand words spoke out, and suddenly the painting took on a new life and a new appreciation for me.

The nautical ticket chomper at the Fox Theatre. Photo Credit: Jaclyn Cook.

Similarly, on a rainy Saturday morning at the end of January, I had the chance to hear the thousand words of the Fox Theatre. It is a masterpiece of its own, and has quite a tale (or 200) to tell. If you haven’t been on the tour yet—GO! They’re led by knowledgeable volunteers who give individualized tours depending on how they love the theater.

We were taken around by Vic Jester, who focused on the extraordinary architectural details of the building. He wove tales of gatherings, performances and parties, of eras gone by and a landmark rising up from the cold days of almost being closed forever. I was intrigued by the design of the theater influenced by the Taj Mahal and the 1920s discovery of King Tut’s tomb—all stemming from a contest by its original owners, the Shriners, to “Out Baghdad Baghdad.” As you walk through the Egyptian Ballroom and the Grand Salon, you feel like a character in CASABLANCA or expect to see Pepe Le Moko come around the corner. There are hidden repetitions in the Islamic art of the stained glass ceiling and opulent chairs in the Men’s and Ladies lounges (which were designed to emulate the room structure of a Middle Eastern harem). It’s not just the ancient epochs that greet you here, but the decades of the 20th century and its inhabitants, too. A door leads to the old infirmary where in case one felt faint, a nurse was onsite to care for you. Private telephone booths in the lounges are available to make personal calls. The Mighty Mo, a grand Moller organ rises up from the orchestra pit to lend music to the show.

You even learn about how the starry ceiling is created, from paint to lights—just in case you’d like to do that to your own house. There’s a lot to be noticed and appreciated on the walls and floors, too. Just about every inch of the Fox has a story behind it. Going to the theater used to be an experience, one you saved up for, dressed up for, and looked forward to for weeks. There are few of these atmosphere theaters still standing in America of this caliber—but how lucky we are to have one here in our very own city that is still hosting performances and films, and welcoming you like member of royalty.

The stained glass ceiling of the Fox Theatre's Grand Salon. Photo credit: Jaclyn Cook.

This weekend there are several great Retro reasons to return to the Fox. Norah Jones will be jazzing it up on the Fox’s magnificent stage Saturday night June 17 Or sing-a-long with Julie Andrews and the Trapp Family children during a special screening of THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965) at 2 p.m. on Sunday June 18 in The Fox Theatre’s Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival.  But to really get to know the history and tales of this wonderful local landmark for just $10, consider taking an Atlanta Preservation Center walking tour of the Fox or a historic Atlanta neighborhood such as Sweet Auburn, InmanPark and Grant Park.  While you’re there, keep an eye out for all the scarabs!

See more photos of the Fox Theater by photographer Jaclyn Cook, who took the shots included in this article, here.

 

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Weekend Update, April 15-17, 2011

Posted on: Apr 15th, 2011 By:

Friday, April 15

The 75th annual Dogwood Festival begins at noon at Piedmont Park including a large juried fine arts market, continuous live music including New Orleans-style blues from Swamp Funk Quartet at 3:40-4:30 pm, kid’s village, food vendors, Friends of Dogwood tasting pavilion, rides on the vintage Seattle Wheel (read ATLRetro’s preview here), built for the 1963 Seattle World’s Fair, and a classic 1965 carousel, and more. Also happening this weekend is Sweetwater 420 Fest in Candler Park, also featuring an artists’ market and plenty of live music acts, including the Gimme Hendrix Band at 5:20 PM.

The Atlanta Braves celebrate Jackie Robinson Night in honor of the 64th anniversary of the legendary player’s debut in Major League Baseball, breaking the color barrier, with a pre-game reception and on-field ceremony featuring Hank Aaron before tonight’s game against the New York Mets. Rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson holds court at The Loft, while contemporary Atlanta rockabilly band Psycho Devilles descends into The Basement at 1245 Joseph Street. Danish duo The Raveonettes, at The Masquerade tonight, blend ’60s beat with ’80s alt-garage for a sound both Retro and original. Eighties alt-rockers Toad the Wet Sprocket hit Variety Playhouse. The Hollidays bring rhythm and soul to Sidelines in Marietta. Salsambo Dance Studio unleashes some Latin heat at Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s Martinis and IMAXJoe Gransden and Kenny Banks jazz up The Mansion on Peachtree. Saxophonist Brian Hogans headlines Friday Jazz at The High Museum of Art, including full gallery access (see ongoing for current exhibits) and a cash bar. Or go really retro with the Atlanta Opera‘s COSI FAN TUTTE at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. In Mozart’s comedic masterpiece, two Italian officers boast of their fiancees’ faithfulness, only to have a clever friend put it to the test.

Saturday April 16

Vinyl-lovers rejoice! Today is Record Store Day so be sure and support your local indie record store, even if you decide to buy a CD! Decatur CD celebrates with sales, Community BBQ sliders, free beer, concert ticket giveaways, and Atlanta’s own King of Pops with scrumptious freshly made popsicles outside after 2 PM (weather permitting)! Other great Atlanta and Athens indie music shops will host their own celebrations, so get yourself to Fantasyland Records, Wax n’ Facts (live music), Wuxtry (live bands at the Athens location), Criminal Records (live music) and Full Moon Records.

The 75th annual Dogwood Festival continues all day at Piedmont Park including rockin’ blues from Lefty Williams at 5 PM and outrageous ragtime from Blair Crimmins & the Hookers at 6:30 PM. Read ATLRetro’s interview with Blair here. Meanwhile at Sweetwater 420 Fest, catch 7 Walkers featuring Bill Kreutzman of The Grateful Dead at 4:50-6:30 PM.

Mon Cherie’s The Chamber Reunion transports attendees back to Atlanta’s notorious ’90sGoth/Industrial/fetish club with live fetish performances, burlesque/Boi-Lesque,  aerial feats, go-go dancers, drag skits, body paint, a chocolate bar and more surprises to tickle your fancy tonight at The Masquerade from 9 AM late into the night. Mon Cherie provides an exclusive preview as this week’s Kool Kat.

On any other night, The Chamber Reunion would win hands down the most exotic extravaganza in town, but tonight isn’t any other night. Creative competition comes from The Artifice Club, which presents The Clockwork Carnival, a steampunk circus featuring a night full of gypsies, fire eaters and other curiosities at The Goat Farm. Featured acts include The Imperial OpaHot Toddies Flaming Cabaret, the amazing aerial feats of Blast-Off Burlesque‘s Sadie Hawkins, Thimblerig CircusPyro Salto of Birmingham, AL, music by DJs Doctor Q and The Davenport Sisters, and more. Also featured is a Vendor’s Market Caravan, photography sessions, The Circus Contraption Contest with prizes awarded for the most creative device you would need to work at a carnival, and a steampunk costume contest to crown the King and Queen of the Carnival. Festivities start at 4 PM and also last into the very wee hours of the night, we suspect. For ATLRetro’s sneak preview with Doctor Q himself, click here.

In Atlanta Rollergirls action at the Yaarab Shrine Center, the Dirty South Derby Girls take on the Tampa Tantrums at 5 PM, followed by a whole lotta shaking going on as the Denim Demons and the Toxic Shocks skate it out for a chance at a first win of the season. The Psycho Devilles rockabilly it up at Dixie Tavern in Marietta. Variety Playhouse turns the clock back and invites you to dig out the shoulder pads for The Reagan Rock Prom featuring “The Greatest ’80s Soundtrack Songs of all Time.” Music, dancing, a prom king and queen contest and refreshments. Better Than The Beatles pays tribute to the Fab Four at Jerry Farber’s Side Door. DJ Romeo Cologne transforms the sensationally seedy Clermont Lounge into a ’70s disco/funk inferno.

Sunday April 17

Spend a lazy Sunday at the Dogwood Festival at Piedmont Park, catching bands such as easy-going, all-American Jackson County Line (2 PM). Or Sweetwater 420 Festival winds down with several bluegrass acts. Gentleman Jesse serves up the blues “dunch” between 1 and 4 PM at The Earl. Catch the final matinee performance at 3 PM of the Atlanta Opera‘s COSI FAN TUTTE at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. At night, legendary blues musician Taj Mahal plays Variety Playhouse.

Ongoing

Leave it to the mad geniuses at Dad’s Garage to transform a beloved children’s classic into a bloody puppet musical. SCARLETT’S WEB features all your favorite characters from Wilbur the pig to Templeton the rat but adds some splattery special effects. Never mind, it’s all in fun though, they say, and definitely recommended only for anyone old enough to appreciate adult humor. Opened April 14 and runs Thurs., Fri. and Sat. nights at 8 p.m. through May 7.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec died in 1901, but it’s not a stretch to say that his vibrant posters and prints of showgirls, nightclub stars and the café culture influenced the 20thcentury romantic view of Paris and still inspire today’s burlesque performers. The High Museum of Art’s dynamic new special exhibition, TOULOUSE-LAUTREC AND FRIENDS: THE IRENE AND HOWARD STEIN COLLECTION, runs through May 1. Also at the High through May 29 is the MOMA-organized HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON: THE MODERN CENTURY, another blockbuster exhibit showcasing a photographer and photojournalist who captured on film many of the seminal moments  of the 20th century from World War II to the assassination of Ghandi, China’s cultural revolution to civil rights and consumer culture in America.

Tune back in on Monday for This Week in Retro Atlanta. If you know of a cool happening coming up, send suggestions to ATLRetro@gmail.com.


 

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This Week in Retro Atlanta, April 11-17, 2011

Posted on: Apr 12th, 2011 By:

Last week was fairly quiet when it came to Retro-inspired activities in Atlanta, So ATLRetro took a bit of a rest. This week starts slowly, too, but once Saturday hits, even I’m not sure what to do. Let’s just say EVERYTHING happens all at once and ATLRetro revs back up, too, with a bunch of special features including a bedazzling look back at last month’s Southern Fried Burlesque courtesy of the tantalizing Talloolah Love, an exclusive preview of Saturday night’s The Chamber Reunion courtesy of Kool Kat of the Week Mon Cherie, the Dogwood Festival celebrates its 75th anniversary with two vintage amusement rides, and more.

Monday April 11

An acclaimed musician whom B.B. King says has “soul,” D.B. Rielly takes rock and country back to its roots at Smith’s Olde Bar, with back-to-the-basics, ’70s-rock-inspired Saturn 5 and alt-folk Little Brave also on the bill. Northside Tavern hosts its weekly Blues Jam.

Tuesday April 12

Splatter Cinema travels back to 1985 with A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE at 9:30 PM at the Plaza Theatre. While ATLRetro reviewer Mark Arson admits the first sequel may not be the most creative of the Krueger movies, it still features a lot of fun scares, and you know the Splatter gang will dream up a photo op that will haunt your sleep.

Grab your horn and head to Twain’s in Decatur for a Joe Gransden jazz jam session starting at 9 PM. J.T. Speed plays the blues at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack. Notorious DJ Romeo Cologne spins the best ‘70s funk and disco at 10 High in Virginia-Highland. Catch Tuesday Retro in the Metro nights at Midtown’s Deadwood Saloon, featuring live video mixes of ’80s, ’90s, and 2Ks hits. Or go really retro with the Atlanta Opera‘s COSI FAN TUTTE at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. In Mozart’s comedic masterpiece, two Italian officers boast of their fiancees’ faithfulness, only to have a clever friend put it to the test.

Wednesday April 13

Get ready to rumba, cha-cha and jitterbug at the weekly Swing Night at Graveyard Tavern. Deacon Brandon Reeves and Danny “Mudcat” Dudeck bring on the blues at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack and Northside Tavern respectively. Dance to ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s hits during Retro in the Metro Wednesdays presented by Godiva Vodka, at Pub 71 in Brookhaven, starting at 8 PM.

Thursday April 14

ATHENS BURNING, a documentary about the history of the historic Georgia Theatre, a key venue in the college town’s famous music scene, screens at The Plaza Theatre at 7:30 PM. Cowboy Envy strums up some mighty fine traditional and original Western tunes at Atlanta’s tastiest new concert venue, Kathmandu Kitchen and Grill, formerly Pho Truc, in Clarkston from 8-10 PM. Listen to Tongo Hiti’s luxurious live lounge sounds, as well as some trippy takes on iconic pop songs, just about every Thursday night at Trader Vic’s. Watch the classic Gregory PeckAudrey Hepburn romance-on-a-motorscooter movie ROMAN HOLIDAY (1953), drink some wine, hear Free Poems on Demand, and check out PASSIONE ITALIANA: DESIGN OF THE ITALIAN MOTORCYCLE during MODA‘s Thursday night Drink in Design from 6-8 PM. Party ‘70s style with DJ Romeo Cologne at Aurum Lounge.  Breeze Kings and Chickenshack bring on the blues respectively at Northside Tavern and Fat Matt’s Rib Shack.

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