Orpheum Theatre

126 Second Avenue,
New York, NY 10003

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Orpheum Theatre

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The site on which the Orpheum stands is alleged to have been a concert garden as early as the 1880s and, as such, to be one of the oldest continuously operating places of gathering for entertainment events in New York City.

A 1904 NY Times article describes a visit to the Orpheum as an evening which began with entertainment from a Hungarian orchestra, continued with dinner in the 7 o'clock hour, and concluded with a three-hour stage show by a Viennese theatre company.

The theatre was part of the exploding Second Avenue Yiddish theatre scene in the early decades of the 20th century but was exhibiting motion pictures by at least 1921. Additional references indicate that it continued to do so through the mid-1950s.

In 1958, the theatre became a home for legitimate theatre, referred to in some press accounts of the time as the New Orpheum, seating just 299 persons (down from a reported seat count of 560 while a cinema earlier in the decade). Though the Off Broadway venue continued to occasionally show film (hosting, for example, an International Film Festival for Children in 1971 and a weekly Film Makers' Festival in 1980), in the 1980s and 90s it became a venue primarily associated with two productions: the original stage version of “Little Shop of Horrors” (1982-1985) and “Stomp” (1994-present).

Contributed by Damien Farley

Recent comments (view all 22 comments)

robboehm on June 24, 2011 at 6:10 pm

I was impressed by the length and narrowness of the theatre the first time I saw a live production there, I believe it was Anything Goes. I was in the last row. Made up for that with Stomp by being in the second row. Stomp was actually a very clever show that became a bit repetitious with time. I’m not disappointed that I saw it.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 9, 2012 at 7:45 pm

It looks like the producers of Stomp are posting here, since every picture in the photos section, and most of the links, are shots of their marquee.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 10, 2012 at 8:34 am

Chuck, you also posted a picture of the Stomp marquee. Are you a producer? (And my comment was tongue-in-cheek, as I’m sure Ed and Ken and others must know.)

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on March 10, 2012 at 11:50 am

It’s hard to get a photo of this theatre without STOMP on the marquee. It has been playing for 18 years.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 10, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Ha. Saps… I only WISH I had a piece of interest in Stomp! Unfortunately, my only financial connection to the show was when I made my own small contribution towards its fortunes, when I took the kiddies to see it about a decade or so ago!

spectrum on January 2, 2015 at 6:53 pm

From the photos I have seen, the interior of this Orpheum has been stripped to the brick walls – a long and narrow auditorium.

robboehm on January 3, 2015 at 6:39 am

The Orpheum has had a number of successful live productions over the years. I saw Your Own Thing there which opened on June 13, 1968 and ran for 933 performances.

Profjoe on January 3, 2015 at 7:21 am

I can recall, “The World of Ray Bradbury,” (1965) and, “The Ginger Man,” (1963). Later on came the pre-Broadway run of “Little Shop of Horrors.” “Oleanna,” “Key Exchange,” “Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll,” Check out it’s rich past here:


Then Stomp happened and creativity died. But that’s what happened to New York in a nutshell.

Mikeoaklandpark on January 3, 2015 at 7:59 am

Is Stomp not playing? Are they remodeling the theater?

Profjoe on January 3, 2015 at 8:09 am

No, “Stomp” is definitely playing. No stopping “Stomp.”

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