Orpheum Theatre

1 Hamilton Place,
Boston, MA 02108

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Showing 76 - 100 of 145 comments

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 16, 2008 at 11:10 am

The attraction at the Loew’s Orpheum during Christmas week of 1921 was the movie “The Little Minister” plus News and Comedy Shorts; while there was a vaudeville program on stage. Their ad reads “Continuous 915AM – 1030PM.”

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 6, 2008 at 10:15 am

Ron- I have all the info necessary to create pages here in CT for the Wilbur and the Shubert in Boston but there is no history that I can find that they ever presented movies. Unlike the Orpheum which was a first-run cinema for decades before becoming a live theater today. Too bad that CT does not have some sort of a link to a sub-program called Stage Treasures or Live Treasures where theaters like the Wilbur and Shubert could be listed.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 5, 2008 at 11:37 am

That is good news for the Theatre District. The Wilbur went dark because LiveNation (Broadway in Boston) pulled out of it a year or two ago.

Do you know if either the Wilbur or the Shubert ever showed movies? They are not listed at CinemaTreasures because nobody has yet found evidence that they did.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 5, 2008 at 11:19 am

The operator of the Orpheum, Live Nation, will reportedly soon start booking music acts into the reopened Wilbur Theatre several blocks to the south (next to the Wang Theatre). The Wilbur, a small legit house nearly 100 years old, will be the new home of the recently closed Comedy club in the Fanieul Hall marketplace downtown.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 30, 2008 at 8:49 am

Here is an April 2008 night view.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on April 6, 2008 at 11:01 am

Specifically, the building on the left is the Suffolk Law School.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 6, 2008 at 11:00 am

The photo posted above by Lost Memory on March 25 shows the Hamilton Place entrance. Note the new doors and the generally well-maintained look of the facade. Unfortunate that the interior is such a dump. The building on the left with the big cornice “looks old” but was actually constructed by Suffolk University in recent years.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on March 25, 2008 at 6:29 pm

This is another recent photo of the Orpheum.

ALC on November 9, 2007 at 5:36 am

Does anyone have any information on the artwork on the ceiling of the Orpheum Theatre in Boston?

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on October 16, 2007 at 7:06 pm

Just in time for Halloween, Smashing Pumpkins at the Orpheum Theater.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on August 23, 2007 at 11:59 am

Here is another photo of the Orpheum taken in 2006.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on December 9, 2006 at 7:37 am

The MGM Theatre Photograph and Report form for the Orpheum in Boston has an exterior photo taken in 1941. It was Loew’s Orpheum at that time. The photo shows the Washington St. entrance. Attractions on the compact marquee, in white letters on a dark background, are: Irene Dunne and Cary Grant in “Penny Serenade” plus “The Trial of Mary Dugan”. The underside of the marquee is studded with bulbs and just above the doors is an additional board with 2 lines of white letters on a dark background with the titles of the movies posted. The Report states that the theatre has been presenting MGM product for 25 years, that it’s in Good condition; and has 1659 orchestra seats; 1048 balcony seats, and 220 seats in the loges; total: 2,927 seats.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 26, 2006 at 8:10 am

As the Boston Music Hall, the Orpheum is listed in the 1897-98 edition of Julius Cahn’s Official Theatrical Guide, an annual for roadshow producers and stage managers. The manager was L.H. Mudgett. The seating capacity was 2,397 but that figure is slightly different from the breakdown— Orchestra: 1257, Balcony: 680, Gallery: 466, total: 2,403. There is a note that a proscenium arch can be erected if needed and that scenary can be used once the portable proscenium is in place. (I wonder how long it took to put it up.)The comment is also made that the auditorium is on the ground floor, which it was on the Hamilton Place side (it was one flight up from the Winter St. entrance, and later, from the Washington St. entrance.) The Guide also says that the Music Hall had electric illumination.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 15, 2006 at 7:25 am

Back in the 1980s, the Orpheum interior was somewhat shabby in a quaintly funky sort of way which suited its role as a Rock concert hall. Today the place is a total dump inside – badly in need of some basic rehab work.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 22, 2006 at 6:37 am

Yes, Norton’s book is about live-stage theaters. However, many former stage theatres became movie theatres, and vice versa.

MHD on February 22, 2006 at 6:10 am

Thank you both very much. I think I have already seen the Norton book. If I remember correctly, the map does refer to plays, not movie theatres. Incidentally, I remember seeing Shirley Bassey at the Orpheum in the late ‘60s. I was more interested in her than the theatre at the time, but I do remember being impressed with the interior.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 22, 2006 at 4:39 am

I don’t know of any such map of all the Boston theatres. But I’m gradually posting links to the 1895 or 1928 maps for each theatre that appears on either one.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 21, 2006 at 7:59 am

Elliot Norton reviewed for the Record-American/ Herald. And before that, for decades at the old Boston Post. He was considered a “Show Doctor” and his advice was valued by those “trying out” a new show in Boston. He tried to be positive and helpful, instead of nasty and negative like Frank Rich of the NY Times was.

MHD on February 21, 2006 at 7:29 am

Thank you, I’ll try the library first. I’m familiar with Mr Norton. He reviewed for the Herald, I think.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 21, 2006 at 7:25 am

To Mitchell D.: There is a fold-out map of downtown Boston and the Back Bay inside the 1978 book “Broadway Down East” by Elliot Norton, published by the Boston Public Library. Theatres are noted on it with numbers, a key to which is in the margin of the map. The accent is on stage theatres. Unfortunately, there are errors on this map !Elliot Norton was a famous Boston newspaper drama critic for many years (he died about 3 years ago at the age of 100). His is the only theatre map of Boston that I know of.

MHD on February 21, 2006 at 7:01 am

I was researching the Orpheum a couple of weeks ago and found this web site by accident. What a great site. I’ve just read Donald King’s book on Boston Theatres (thanks to this site) but found it a little confusing with all the constant theatre name changes. I was disappointed not to find a map with the book. Have any of you ever tried to map the theaters historically in downtown Boston? I might try, but thought I’d see if anyone had already done it.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 19, 2006 at 2:28 am

correction to the above: the 1895 map has west at the top. The 1928 map has north at the top.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 19, 2006 at 2:20 am

The theatre is visible as “BOS MUSIC HALL” on this 1895 map, right in the middle of the block bounded by Tremont, Winter, Washington, and Bromfield streets. Two dead-end streets run into the building: Music Hall Place (from Winter Street) and Hamilton Place (from Tremont Street). The latter is still the theatre’s public entrance today.

(Actually, a third alley also runs to the building from Bromfield Street, but this alley has no name on the map.)

On this 1928 map, it is the ORPHEUM THEATRE, owned by Loew’s Theatres Company. Loew’s is also shown as the owner of a long and narrow adjoining building which fronts on Washington Street; presumably this was the theatre’s added entrance on Washington Street.

To get your orientation, note that the 1895 map has north at the top, while the 1928 map has west at the top.

(Warning to dialup users: the map images are huge and will take a long time to load)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 15, 2006 at 7:36 am

I recently re-read parts of a 1978 paper entitled “The Boston Rialto”. It was written by Douglass Shand Tucci and was intended as a guidebook for walking tours in Boston’s theatre district. The paper was published by the City Conservation League and sold for $2. This paper was the basis for Chapter 9 of the author’s book “Built in Boston – City and Suburb” published by the New York Graphic Society in 1978. In the source notes at the end of the paper, the author mentions that he found City of Boston building permit # 2333 issued on 1 June 1915, a permit for “alterations” at the Orpheum Theatre, estimated to cost $100,000. This was the permit for the work supervised by Thomas Lamb. Even in 1916 dollars, $100K was not a lot of money for construction work. He mentions that other remodeling work was performed in 1900 and 1904/5. The work done in the summer of 1900 converted the building from a concert hall into a vaudeville theatre and was well documented by a long and detailed article in one of the Boston newspapers when the house reopened in early September 1900. The work in 1904 was supervised by architect Arthur Vinal and it’s unclear to me exactly what was accomplished. Following this work, Vinal designed the new Washington Street entrance and staircase in 1905. That entrance lasted until the Aquarius Theatre days in the 1970s. I wonder if some of the work which I attribute to Thomas Lamb in 1915 may have been accomplished by Arthur Vinal in 1904-5.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 2, 2006 at 7:49 am

Yes, one reason that Symphony Hall was built was because city planners in the 1890s had decided to put yet another street running from Tremont to Washington by extending Hamilton Place right through the demolished property of the Boston Music Hall. That news sent the trustees of the Boston Symphony off on a search for a new site on which to build a new concert hall. Fortunately, the street extension project was dropped, and we still have the Orpheum today.