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The Orpheum Theatre, located on South Main St. at the corner of Beale in Memphis, Tennessee, was built in 1928 and is one of the few remaining "movie palaces" of the 1920s. The theatre presents a variety of events from Broadway shows and concerts to films. A $4.7 million renovation in the 1980s included refurbishing of ornamental plasterwork, crystal chandeliers and original furnishings plus remodeling of backstage and technical areas. It seats 2,400
The Orpheum Theatre has survived several financial bankruptcies, a devastating fire, and the threat of demolition for the construction of an office complex. However, the Orpheum, called the "South's Finest Theatre" rose above all this and now is a premiere performing arts center for the Mid-South.
In 1890 The Grand Opera House was built on the corner of Main and Beale Street. The Grand was billed as the classiest theatre outside of New York City. Vaudeville was the main source of entertainment at the time. The Grand became part of the Orpheum Vaudeville circuit in 1907, and was renamed the Orpheum Theatre.
Vaudeville at the Orpheum was successful for almost two decades. Then in 1923, after a show that featured the singer Blossom Seeley, a fire started and the theatre burned to the ground.
In 1928, at a cost of $1.6 million, a new Orpheum was built on the original site of The Grand, but it was a different theater. The new Orpheum is twice as large as her predecessor and is beautifully decorated. A few decorations include lavish tasseled brocade draperies, enormous crystal chandeliers, gilded moldings and a large Wurlitzer pipe organ. The Orpheum was purchased by the Malco movie theater chain in 1940 and presented first run movies
In 1976, Malco decided to sell the building, and there was talk of demolishing the old theater to build an office complex. However, in 1977, the Memphis Development Foundation purchased The Orpheum and began bringing Broadway productions and concerts back to the theatre.
After 54 years, The Orpheum was closed on Christmas in 1982 to begin a $5 million renovation to restore The Theatre to its 1928 opulence. A grand reopening celebration was held in January 1984 and it signaled the rebirth of entertainment in downtown Memphis.
The Orpheum, which is managed by the Memphis Development Foundation, presents two seasons of Broadway tours. In fact, on an average annual basis, The Orpheum has presented more Broadway touring productions than any other theater in the country.
In addition to bringing the finest Broadway Productions to the area, a wide array of entertainers have graced the Orpheum's stage.
Two of Memphis' local arts groups, Ballet Memphis and Opera Memphis, also call The Orpheum home. However, Ballet Memphis now holds multiple performances at Playhouse on the Square. Additionally, Opera Memphis collaborates with Playhouse and has performed there in the past, as The Orpheum Theatre becomes more and more of a "road-house" for Broadway productions on tour.
The Orpheum Theatre, a non-profit organization, continues to flourish because of the generous support of the community.[
- Historical Travel
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located on the corner of beale and main streets the orheum threater is on the site of the 1890 grand opera house. the grand opera house burned in 1923 and it was replaced by the orpheum in 1928. as the south main area declined in the 1960's and 1970's so did the orpheum. the theater had a five million dollar renovation in 1983 as part of the beale street redevelopment. today this historic theater hosts traveling broadway plays and the memphis ballet and opera. the orpheum theater is listed on the national register of historic places.
- Arts and Culture
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Music and Movies
We didn't get a chance to actually visit the Orpheum. We just saw it from the outside. The original building (the Grand Opera House) was built in 1890. In 1907, the Grand became part of the Orpheum Circuit of vaudeville shows, thus the theatre became known as the Orpheum. Then in 1923, the theatre burned to the ground. In 1928, a new Orpheum was built on the original site but it was twice as large. In 1940 a movie chain bought the theatre and presented first run movies until 1976. Sometime in the 50s, the Orpheum acquired a ghost in a white dress and pigtails sitting in seat C-5, Box 5. She is known as Mary and has never disrupted a performance.
In 1982, a renovation was begun, and the theatre was reopened in 1984. Now it presents 10-12 large-scale Broadway shows a year. It is also used by Ballet Memphis and Opera Memphis
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The Orpheum Theatre
Catch a show at The Orpheum Theatre. The Orpheum claims to be the "South's Finest Theatre." It was constructed in 1890 and has undergone signficant restoration efforts in recent years. While it does not look like much from the outside, it is very impressive inside. There are some additional pictures, scheduling information and ticket purchasing contacts at their website.
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