The Fox Tucson Theatre opened on April 11, 1930 as a dual vaudeville/movie house. The Fox featured a stage, full fly-loft, and dressing rooms beneath the stage. The combined effects of “talkies” and the Depression limited the opportunities for live performance, and the dressing rooms were never completed.
Opening night, April 11, 1930, proved to be the biggest party the small community of Tucson had ever seen. With Congress Street closed and waxed for dancing, four live bands, a live radio broadcast and free trolley rides downtown, the party was one not to be missed. So began Fox’s 40 year reign as the “crown jewel” of downtown Tucson’s entertainment world. Originally, the Fox served as Tucson’s Movie Palace, presenting films on the big screen in addition to community events, vaudeville performances, and the Tucson Chapter of the Mickey Mouse Club.
Competition for new theaters and the decline of downtown shopping led to the Fox closing in 1974. After sitting empty for 25 years, the theater was nearly beyond restoration. Extensive water damage, vandalism, and neglect had conspired to keep the building dark. The owners, who had decided to let the building slowly decay, had little interest in selling the property to anyone. Following a two-year negotiation, the non-profit Fox Tucson Theatre Foundation was able to purchase the building in 1999 for $250,000.
Stabilization and planning for the rehabilitation/restoration began at once with a new roof being installed to stop further damage from the elements. Small restoration projects such as the repair and relighting of the original chandeliers kept the community engaged—through bi-annual open houses and special event fund-raisers.
Following a six-year $14 million rehabilitation, the theatre reopened on New Year’s Eve 2006 (12/31/05).
The 1164-seat audience capacity is big enough to attract national and international talent, yet small enough to boast an intimate entertainent experience.
Now, in 2018, Fox Tucson Theatre is a premier performance venue, a classic film buff’s dream (showing classic 35mm films on the big screen “the way they were meant to be seen”), and a multi-purpose, elegant rental facility for corporate, non-profit, and private events.
The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places due to its unique “Southwestern Art Deco” decor as well as it world class acoustics.
Where is Fox Tucson Theatre located?
Fox Tucson Theatre is in Downtown Tucson at 17 W. Congress.
What are the hours?
The box office is generally open Tues-Fri from 11:00am-6:00pm, and 2 hours prior to showtime for events on the weekend for most ticketed events. The box office also stays open late for evening shows during the week.
If you want to see the inside of the building, a guided public tour is offered once a month, the second Tuesday of every month at noon. On the tour, you will learn all about the Fox’s history and peek at some of the spaces not usually open to the public. Tours are complimentary (donations accepted) and last about an hour.
Aside from the tour and scheduled events/shows, the Fox Tucson Theatre is not open to the public during the day.
Why would I visit Fox Tucson Theatre?
- To see a favorite musician/band perform
- To watch a classic film
- To take a tour and learn about the history
- To attend a private event
How much does it cost?
Each event has its own ticket prices. Please check the website for a complete show line-up.
What is the parking situation?
There is an abundance of parking in the downtown area. Street parking (in front of meters) is free after 5pm and on the weekends. There are also a number of garages and parking lots within easy walking distance of the theatre.
Garages that are good picks include La Placita, Pennington Street, Old Pueblo, the Library Garage, and El Presidio.
You can also opt to take the Tucson Streetcar. The 3.9-mile route has a stop right in front of the Fox!
What should I wear?
Fox is indoors with heating in the winter and air-conditioning in the summer. Dress varies depending on the event, but Tucson is generally very casual.
What should I bring with me?
(1) Water bottles, (2) cash/credit for parking, food, & drinks, and (3) your camera for capturing the cool downtown scene.
Can I take photos in the building and/or during the performances?
Fox has a standard photo policy. You may take photos – but no flash and no video.
Are bathrooms available?
Yes. There are 6 bathrooms – 2 on the main floor, 2 on the lower level, and 2 on the upper level – all on the south side of the theatre.
What shows are currently playing at Fox Tucson Theatre?
Fox Tucson Theatre offers a wide variety of live music – including country, classic rock, jazz & blues, and singer/songwriters. In addition, Fox hosts comedians, dance groups, and live theatre performances. Some of the more renowned musicians who have played at the Fox over the past few years include: Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, BB King, Jackson Browne, Pat Metheny, Pink Martini, Joan Baez, Gordon Lightfoot, The Harlem Gospel Choir, Jeff Bridges, Lyle Lovett, Cyndi Lauper, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Weird Al, and Pat Benatar. They also continue to honor the Fox’s legacy as a classic movie palace by screening several classic Hollywood films each month (programmed in partnership with the UA Hanson Film Institute).
Is outside food allowed? Are picnic tables available?
Does Fox Tucson Theatre have a restaurant?
No, but food and drinks are available for purchase.
- Bottled Water $2
- Soda $2.50-$4.50
- Beer and Wine $5-$6
- Cocktails $8-$10
- Popcorn $3-$5
- Boxed Candy $2.50
- Nuts $2
- Granola Bar $1.50
- Bagged Candy $1.50
What restaurants are located NEAR Fox Tucson Theatre?
You’re in luck! There are gads of terrific restaurants in Downtown Tucson. Our top picks within walking distance are:
- 47 Scott, 47 N. Scott Ave (0.1 miles away) – a neighborhood bistro featuring Modern American comfort food, brunch and dinner
- Penca, 50 E. Broadway Blvd (0.1 miles away) – Mexico City cuisine and international bar
- Reilly Craft Pizza & Dinner, 101 E. Pennington St (0.1 miles away) – pizza, sandwiches, salad, beer, wine, cocktails
- Cafe Poca Cosa, 110 E. Pennington St (0.2 miles away) – “imaginative Mexican cuisine in an upscale, urban bistro setting”
- Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails, 135 S. 6th Ave (0.2 miles away) – Modern American cuisine
- Cafe a La C’Art, 150 N. Main Ave (0.2 miles away) – beautiful cafe on-property of the Tucson Museum of Art, indoor + outdoor seating
- HUB Restaurant & Ice Creamery, 266 E. Congress St (0.2 miles away) – salads, sandwiches, burgers, ice cream
- Empire Pizza & Pub, 137 E. Congress St. (0.2 miles away) – NY style pizza, heros, wings
BABIES & KIDS
Does Fox Tucson Theatre offer programming for children & families?
Yes. Check the website for a list of upcoming shows and events.
Should I bring a stroller?
A stroller is probably not necessary, unless you plan to spend some time walking around downtown before or after your show.
Are changing tables available in the restrooms?
What about my other “baby” (cat, dog, etc)?
No animals are permitted in the building, except service animals for special needs.
Can I have my wedding or rehearsal dinner at Fox Tucson Theatre?
Can I have my child’s birthday party at Fox Tucson Theatre?