Orpheum Theater

409 S. 16th Street,
Omaha, NE 68102

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MikeGeater
MikeGeater on August 7, 2001 at 1:09 am

I was Assistant Manager of the Orpheum in the early 1960’s. The picture above does not show the theatre as it was in 1961. When a person entered the theatre then, it was thru a half block long lobby thru the City National Bank building. At the end of the lobby on the right was an elevator. (Used only for taking projectionists to the 6th floor projection room.) Straight ahead was the Grand Staircase which took you to the mezzanine level and on up to the third floor, or down to the main lounge. The third floor was the entrance to the middle section of the balcony. Also on that level was another foyer with a lounge area. Stairways on each end led to the fifth floor hallway which led to the top row of seats.

To the left after leaving the lobby was the Grand Foyer which featured three huge glass chandeliers, a carpet that was hand made in Czechoslovakia (and cost $10,000 – as the story goes), and several large paintings. The foyer on the mezzanine overlooked the Grand Foyer.

At the time the seating capacity was 3300. As I recall the configuration, there were 900 seats on the main floor, 300 on the mezzanine level (it was shaped like a horseshoe, with boxes on each end) and 1100 in the balcony.

The theatre still had it’s pipe organ, but it was inoperable then.

The Orpheum was a place of wonderment to a young, curious Assistant manager (me) who somehow found the time to explore the (spooky) old dressing rooms(elevator there, too), and walk the catwalk (dark and spooky) that ran across the auditorium ceiling from the fly loft to the projection room. (A person falling from that catwalk in certain places would never be found.)

In the late 60’s or early 70’s, the Orpheum became the property of the city of Omaha, which then went about restoring the theatre to it’s former grandeur. I was fortunate to be able to tour the theatre in 1978 and found that the City had expanded the stage and repaired the pipe organ along with the restoration work. It was just beautiful.

Mike Geater

weirdtallgirl
weirdtallgirl on June 5, 2001 at 9:54 pm

It would be great if you could list the homepage for the theater.