The Majestic Theatre celebrated Independence Day early this year with their three-week run of the Broadway show “Hamilton” in May. The hip-hop take on America’s founding drew over 57,000 people to Downtown San Antonio to experience the worldwide sensation.

Even if you didn’t have a chance to catch the show, The Majestic Theatre, which turns 90 this year, has a lot to offer on a regular basis. Take their happy hour tours, which offer a unique glimpse into the quirky history of the Houston Street icon.

“When you come for a show, you’re focused on what’s happening on stage,” says Vanessa Martinez, Front of House Manager. “When you come for the tour you can actually stop, look, stare, and take in everything.” Patrons often tell her that they take a tour after seeing a show because they want to dedicate time to learn about the lavish space.

The Majestic Theatre is one of seventeen atmospheric theatres still operating in the United States. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio

“John Eberson had a thing for birds,” laughs Venessa, referring the Majestic’s architect. Like much of the staff, she is well versed in the theatre’s past. Eberson hid birds in many of the ornate plaster decorations in the lobby and main floor. The stage decoration, influenced by both Spanish and Mediterranean architecture, features over two dozen genuine taxidermy birds. An atmospheric theatre is one which gives the impression of an outdoor experience, which may explain Eberson’s penchant for fowls.

Majestic Theatre Architect John Eberson hid many birds throughout the lobby and main floors. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio
Birds are seen in a painting above the ceiling in the main lobby of the Majestic Theatre. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio

Perhaps you’re not that into avian décor. That’s ok. Play around with some of the awesome selfie spots. Vanessa revealed a mind-blowing optical illusion in the foyer. While ascending the grand staircase to the mezzanine, stop on the middle landing. Turn around and use your selfie cam. You can position the chandelier in the background to act like a crown on your head!

Front of the House Manager Vanessa Martinez takes a selfie. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio

As you walk onto the mezzanine, you may notice small alcoves with seating. The Majestic offers a new experience to elevate your evening at a show. You and five of your friends can reserve an “Ambassador Alcove,” which includes a bottle of champagne, chocolates from Chocolazzo, and a dedicated server. Enjoy this private area from when doors open to the end of the show.

An ambassador alcove at the Majestic Theatre. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio

In fact, The Majestic Theatre is collaborating with many local vendors to offer one-of-a-kind experiences. The coffee bar on the mezzanine level features hot and iced coffee, coffee with spirits, lattes, and (just for their 90th Birthday) chocolate covered oreos from Chocolazzo. The bar staff were trained by Rosella baristas and they proudly serve Rosella coffee. Expect to see more partnerships with local organizations in the future.

The most popular part of the Happy Hour tour has to be the peek backstage. The Theatre shares a backstage with its sister venue, The Empire Theatre. Murals immortalize decades of performances, often depicting art in the style of that particular show. Cast members sign each mural, sometimes multiple times if a show returns. The most exciting recent edition has been the Hamilton mural. (Another selfie opportunity, hint hint.)

The new Hamilton mural is located backstage of the Majestic Theatre. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio
Murals line the walls backstage at the Majestic Theatre. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio
Murals line the walls backstage at the Majestic Theatre. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio

The Majestic Theatre Happy Hour tours offer a chance to absorb the endless and interesting details about its past. It answers questions like “Why is there grotto in the wall?” “Why are the water fountains so low and why do they have a step?” and “Where are those old tapestries from?”

“I think the space in general is completely unmatched in the area,” explains Vanessa. The Majestic is one of just seventeen atmospheric theatres still operating in the United States. It really is the crown jewel of Houston Street. Some locals still remember it from its movie-house days. They like to return to re-live and learn about its history, and to see how that rich tradition is informing its colorful future.

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