Orpheum Theatre

203 West Adams Street,
Phoenix, AZ 85003

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Showing 26 - 45 of 45 comments

Sbilly69 on January 19, 2007 at 9:07 pm

The original pipe organ was removed years ago. A nicer and larger theater pipe organ has been installed in place of the original organ, and yes it too appears and dissapears just like the original organ did! On a dolly, it rides the orchestra elevator up and down, and can even be pushed on the stage if need be.

Patsy on January 5, 2007 at 2:35 pm

“There was a unique disappearing organ also. Organ shows with a thematic orchestra was all the rage. Movietone and Vitaphone were now paving the way for sound in motion pictures, so big things were happening in Phoenix because of the Orpheum.”

Does this theatre still have its original “disappearing organ”?

Patsy on January 5, 2007 at 2:20 pm

I have friends who are in Phoenix right now and when I call them tonight I will tell them about the Orpheum and give them the address on Adams! Wish I could be there to see it with them!

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on August 3, 2006 at 5:19 am

This web site is the greatest! I was in Phoenix yesterday on business. While driving through an intersection my old theatre radar picked up the Orpheum’s marquee about a block to my right. I did not have time to stop. But now I can log on here in a spare five minutes and read all about it.

The Orpheum looks like a fine house.

JimRankin on July 20, 2005 at 7:34 am

An excellent article conveys the history of the ORPHEUM as the cover story of the 1st Quarter issue of MARQUEE magazine of 2005 of the Theatre Historical Soc. and can be ordered as a back issue via their web site’s page at: www.historictheatres.org The nine pages devoted to the theatre contain 17 b&w photos, and the following article discusses the chain that founded the ORPHEUM: Rickards & Nace, hence the dual initial monogram on the seat standards.

The captions for the cover as well as that for the photo of the proscenium on page nine are wrong in describing the mouldings on the proscenium as “rope [moulds]” since these are actually Torus moulds here heavily enriched as described by my caption given in the photo of them in color on the web site I list in my previous comment.

dznyfn on June 15, 2005 at 10:21 am

Contact the Orpheum Theatre or the Valley of the Sun Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society (atos.org) regarding the upcoming 2005-2006 silent movie series with theatre pipe organ accompaniment. The first of the “Silent Sundays” series will be in October, 2005.

JimRankin on June 10, 2005 at 9:37 am

Recent color photos of this theatre can be found on the site: “America’s Stunning Theatres” by photographer and stagehand Noah Kern at: http://www.pbase.com/affablebeef/theatres Comments and information may be left there without registration; such can be public view or only to Mr. Kern. Scroll down the page to find the name, and then click on the sample image above it to be taken to the page of photos of it.

EoGuy on May 18, 2005 at 8:37 am

One of the downtown theaters had a dentist’s office upstairs as I recall. Seems like his name was Edgar B Pease.

Maybe that was the Fox?


Ken Roe
Ken Roe on May 9, 2005 at 3:15 pm

Listed in the Film Daily Yearbook, 1941 edition the seating capacity of the Orphuem Theatre is given as 1,690.

trenna on April 18, 2005 at 9:26 pm

My grandfather Harry S. Keffer was the architect (or one of) on the original orpheum. My parents bought one of the bricks in his name.

Patsy on January 28, 2005 at 6:28 pm

Foxy: Wonderful story about the carpet! “A workman during the restoration had to move a very heavy cement vase and there was a pristine piece of carpet underneath about 2 feet in diameter. It was reproduced and installed.”

RobbKCity on December 28, 2004 at 5:13 am

This theater is one of the coolest things in all of Phoenix.

acmeron on November 1, 2004 at 6:22 pm

Here is a website with current pictures of the Orpheum Theater.
View link

BobWasserman on October 20, 2004 at 2:04 pm

Growing up in Phoenix I remember fondly spending many hours at the Orpheum/Paramount. Seeing “War of the World’s” and the first Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis films. Was always fascinated by the ceiling filled with stars and clouds.
Also remember the Fox, Rialto, Strand, Vista, Guild and Phoenix theaters. That was wayyyy back when it was FUN to go downtown on the #11 Encanto Bus and spend Saturday or Sunday afternoon in an “Air Cooled” movie palace. Bob Wasserman 10/20/04

Patrick Crowley
Patrick Crowley on October 9, 2003 at 6:11 pm

Tonight’s presidential debate (with all nine remaining Democratic presidential candidates) is taking place at the Orpheum!

(The debate is being aired on CNN.)

barrygoodkin on April 30, 2002 at 10:16 am

The end caps on the seats in the balcony contain a “R” over a “N.” The R&N stands for Rickards & Nace the developer and operator of the theatre when it opened on January 5, 1929

maryapierce on January 8, 2002 at 8:12 am

Hello, I am looking for any information that I can find on the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix, AZ My great Uncle Hugo Radke had done the magnificent Wood Carving through out the Theatre. My Mother Bonnie Schaffer Danced there during the 1950’s for The Cavalcade of Rythm, Dancing the opening and closing acts for the Wayne Newton Television Show on Channel 12 in Phoenix. Any one with any information on how to obtain the films from that show, please contact me at
Thank You

BarrySGoodkin on December 11, 2001 at 6:23 pm

I have done extensive research on this theatre. The theatre opened on January 5, 1929 as the crown jewel of the Rickards & Nace Enterprises. At that time Rickards & Nace had an affiliation with Universal Pictures. Universal divested itself of theatres and Rickards & Nace was acquired by Paramount Publix at the end of 1929. Harry L. Nace, Sr. continued as general manager for Paramount until 1948 when a new general manager was named by Paramount. The “R” on the end stanchions in the balcony seats may be for Jo Rickerts, the President of Rickards & Nace. He retired when the chain was acquired by Paramount. The architects for the original construction was the Phoenix architectural firm of Lesher & Mahoney. The associate architect was Hugh Gilbert who was an architect and contractor who worked for Rickards & Nace as Superintendent, Maintainence & Construction.

foxy on May 22, 2001 at 6:44 pm

The Orpheum has two “mouse holes” on each side of the auditorium that project moving clouds on the ceiling. there are two further projectors on the balcony that project stars.

Some of the original seats in the balcony have the letter R, I believe, on them that is supposed to be the original architect, but this is heresay.

The area below the seats is full of rooms where they used to keep animals for the vaudeville shows.

There was a large well at the bottom level with a fan. It would blow the cool air up through the floor of the theater to “cool” patrons in the summer.

Restoration is magnificent except for some strange reason they put in wrought iron ceiling lights in the foyer areas instead of the original 1920’s type fixtures.

The carpet was interesting. No one knew what the original carpet looked like. A workman during the restoration had to move a very heavy cement vase and there was a pristine piece of carpet underneath about 2 feet in diameter. It was reproduced and installed.