Your Family Needs to Visit These Community Theatres
Does your family love to hit the theatre? Maybe you enjoy plays or live music performances? These six historic theatres deliver regular talent on the stage, with a nod to the Golden Era. Plan your next family outing where somewhere old becomes something new.
Imperial Theatre, Augusta
Augusta's Imperial Theatre opened in 1918 under the name The Wells. Guests could see an evening show for 15 cents or a matinee for 10 cents. And celebrities? Of course! Their archives indicate Charlie Chaplin sold Liberty bonds here shortly after it opened.
Coming upon its 100th birthday, The Imperial still hosts guests today even while undergoing an infrastructure upgrade. Be sure to take in a holiday event, a concert or a production from the local Augusta Players.
GEM Theatre, Calhoun
Calhoun's GEM Theatre opened in 1927 and expanded to its current size in the late 1930s. Residents and visitors enjoyed movies here until in closed in the late 1970s.
It has been lovingly restored by a generous local family, who worked diligently to raise funds and repair it to its previous grandeur. Concerts, movies and plays take the stage today, with a "feel" for 1939 using state-of-the-art technology from the present.
Savannah's great theatre opened in 1818, undergoing several owners. After a 1948 fire, the building was remodeled into the current art deco style and reopened for movies and productions in 1950.
Oscar Wilde and Lillian Russell are among the greats to grace her stage. Even Ty Cobb performed in a show here, as well as John Wilkes Booth's brother.
Savannah Theatre sits off Bull Street, near the legendary "Forrest Gump Bench," so make your way over to one of their many talented productions.
Fox Theatre, Atlanta
The Fabulous Fox Theatre serves as one of Georgia's premier entertainment venues, but it didn't begin that way. The Fox was built in 1928 for the Atlanta Shriner's headquarters. Their eyes were bigger than their wallets, though, and so they leased it to movie mogul William Fox.
He spared no expense, with financial backing worth an equivalent of $40 million of today's money. It was not enough to keep the doors open though, and the posh theatre closed in 1974.
The theatre as you know it today is supported by the Fox Theatre Institute. Go here for performances, plays, musicals, and more….and do not miss a tour of Atlanta's most beautiful building.
Rylander Theatre, Americus
This Americus theatre opened in 1921, primarily for vaudeville acts. It closed for more than 40 years but reopened in 1999. The auditorium was named for Jimmy Carter, having opened in conjunction with his birthday.
The art deco details of its origin were painstakingly refurbished, and it serves as a gorgeous venue for performances and movies today. Additionally, Rylander Theatre is home to a restored 1928 Moller Organ, much liked the beloved organ at Atlanta's Fox Theatre.
Georgia Theatre, Athens
The building has been transformed many times, from a YMCA to a music store to a hotel – even a Sears Roebuck. Finally, in 1935 it became the Elite Theatre, renamed later to Georgia Theatre. It has continuously served as a performance venue for new and emerging musicians.
Examples of performers include Goo Goo Dolls, Sister Hazel, Hooty & the Blowfish and the Zac Brown Band. It has even been the setting for music videos by R.E.M. and John Mayer, and the location for live album recordings by Corey Smith and the Derek Trucks Band.
Don’t miss the newly added rooftop restaurant. You’ll have to leave the kids at home for most shows here, including their free UGA football screenings.
Lesli Peterson is Georgia’s official Family Explorer. Find more of her family-friendly tips and trip ideas on ExploreGeorgia.org, and visit 365AtlantaFamily.com for more itineraries and money-saving tips.