Fox Theatre (St. Louis)

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Fox Theatre (St. Louis)
Fox theater stl.jpg
The Fox Theatre, St Louis
Location 527 N. Grand Blvd.
St. Louis, Missouri
 United States
Type Concert venue
Opened 1929
Renovated 1982
Owner Fox Associates
Capacity 4500
Website

Fox Theatre website "The Fabulous Fox"

Fox Theater
Fox Theatre (St. Louis) is located in Missouri
Fox Theatre (St. Louis)
Location 527 N. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, Missouri
Coordinates 38°38′19″N 90°13′54″W / 38.63861°N 90.23167°W / 38.63861; -90.23167Coordinates: 38°38′19″N 90°13′54″W / 38.63861°N 90.23167°W / 38.63861; -90.23167
Built 1929
Architectural style Other, Siamese Byzantine style
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 76002261[1]
Added to NRHP October 8, 1976

The Fox Theatre, a former movie palace, is a performing arts center located at 527 N. Grand Blvd. in St. Louis, Missouri. Also known as "The Fabulous Fox", it is situated in the arts district of the Grand Center area in Midtown St. Louis, one block north of Saint Louis University. It opened in 1929[2] and was completely restored in 1982.

History[edit]

The Fox was built in 1929 by movie pioneer William Fox as a showcase for the films of the Fox Film Corporation and elaborate stage shows. It was one of a group of five spectacular Fox Theatres built by Fox in the late 1920s. (The others were the Fox Theatres in Brooklyn, Atlanta, Detroit, and San Francisco.)

When the theater opened on January 31, 1929 it was reportedly the second-largest theater in the United States, with 5,060 seats.[3] It was one of St. Louis's leading movie theaters through the 1960s and has survived to become a versatile performing arts venue.

The Fox was designed by an architect specializing in theaters, C. Howard Crane, in an eclectic blend of Asian decorative motifs sometimes called Siamese Byzantine. The interior is the architectural twin of another Fox Theatre built in Detroit in 1928. Reporters in 1929 described the Fox Theatres in St. Louis and Detroit as "awe-inspiringly fashioned after Hindoo (sic) Mosques of Old India, bewildering in their richness and dazzling in their appointments … striking a note that reverberates around the architectural and theatrical worlds."[4] William Fox nicknamed the style the "Eve Leo Style" in tribute to his wife, who decorated the interior with furnishings, paintings and sculpture she had bought on her trips overseas.[3]

The Fox Theatre closed in March 1978 and was purchased by Fox Associates in 1981. The theater was restored at a price of at least $3 million dollars and in comparison, the Fox cost $6 million dollars to build in 1929. It reopened in September 1982 with the Broadway musical Barnum. Fox Theatricals is also the operator of the Briar Street Theater in Chicago.

The Fox currently seats 4,192 theatergoers plus 234 in the private Fox Club.

In September 2007, the venue celebrated the 25th anniversary of its re-opening with a concert featuring Brian Stokes Mitchell and Linda Eder and a day of the theater showing movies in a throwback to its beginnings.[5]

Notable events[edit]

The facade of the Fox briefly appears in the 1981 John Carpenter film Escape from New York as an abandoned Broadway theatre. Kurt Russell's character, Snake, is seen approaching the theatre from the east, hearing music within, then entering. (A close look at the graffiti on the building clearly reveals the words: FOX THEATRE.) However, the shots immediately following are the interior of the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles.

The Theatre hosted a 60th birthday concert for St. Louis–born, early rock and roll pioneer, Chuck Berry in 1986. Keith Richards, of The Rolling Stones, was the project's musical director and backing band leader. Taylor Hackford incorporated the concert into a documentary film about Berry and released the film as Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll, as a feature. In the film, Berry mentions that, as a child growing up in St. Louis, he was denied entrance to the Fox to watch a film because he was black.

The Theatre played host to the politically motivated Vote for Change Tour on October 6, 2004, featuring performances by James Taylor and The Dixie Chicks.[6]

The Fox is also featured on an episode of stand-up comedian Kathy Griffin's show Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List (Season 4, Episode 2: "Home is Where The Profit Is"). Griffin brought the show's crew to film her personal assistants raising more money from merchandise during a stand-up show at the theatre.

The Fox was the final stop of the Third National Tour of Les Misérables, with the final show taking place on July 23, 2006.[7] The tour ran for 17 years, totaling 7,061 performances.

Theater organ[edit]

The theater's Wurlitzer pipe organ cost $75,000 in 1929.[3] It has four manuals, 36 ranks and 348 stops. Restoration of the organ was undertaken by Marlin Mackley in 1981.[8]

Tom Terry was the theater's resident organist from 1929 to 1935. The organ was not played for the public from 1935 to 1952.[3] In 1952, Stan Kann was named resident organist. He served as organist at the Fox for 22 years and became something of a legend to theater organ aficionados.[9]

A second Wurlitzer organ was installed in the lobby during the theater's renovation in the 1980s. It replaced the original Möller organ which had been removed. The smaller lobby organ has two manuals and 11 ranks and had been originally installed in the Majestic Theatre in East St. Louis, Illinois in 1930.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  2. ^ "NRHP Nomination Form - Fox Theater" (PDF). Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2013-01-10. 
  3. ^ a b c d Bickel, Vernon P. (2000, July August). The Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis: Celebrating Over 70 Glorious Years. Theatre Organ Magazine. Retrieved October 4, 2008: [1]
  4. ^ St. Louis Theater Organ Society. Retrieved October 4, 2008
  5. ^ "Fox Theatre to Host Anniversary Celebration with Tours, Shows". Greenville Advocate. August 23, 2007. 
  6. ^ http://www.backstreets.com/setlists2004.html
  7. ^ "Les Miz Tour's Final Stop Announced; Meet It In St. Louis". Playbill. 10 March 2006. Retrieved 2013-11-22. 
  8. ^ St. Louis Theater Organ Society site. Retrieved October 4, 2008
  9. ^ "Stan Kann dies at 83; organist got swept up in a vacuum cleaner fixation". Los Angeles Times. October 4, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-04. 
  10. ^ FAQ on St. Louis Fox Theatre site. Retrieved October 4, 2008

External links[edit]