Orpheum Theatre

129 University Place,
New Orleans, LA 70112

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The Orpheum Theatre opened in 1918 as a vaudeville theatre. It was known as the RKO Orpheum Theatre, and became a movie theatre for a while. It was scheduled to be demolished in 1969.

However, it was purchsed by the New Orleans Symphony and was restored. After the New Orleans Symphony folded, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the nation’s largest musician-owned professional symphony orchestra took over, and made the theatre its home. The acoustics and lines were ideal. Concerts and other artistic performances and speeches took place in the building. The Orpheum Theatre was added to the Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Unfortunately, Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters inundated the theatre basement, which housed electrical systems, and part of the orchestra level. In 2011, it was undergoing renovations, which continued in 2014. It reopened in August 2015 and is now home to the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra.

Contributed by Joe Drefahl, James P. Kovata

Recent comments (view all 56 comments)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 17, 2010 at 11:46 am

I don’t know when “seg” ended in N.O. but I recall being there in August 1964 for a day or two while traveling. In the New Orleans Union Terminal waiting room, one could see where the letters spelling out “Whites Only” and “Colored Only” had been removed from the walls. So that big rail station had been desegregated by then, and maybe the Orpheum Theatre as well.

spectrum on March 30, 2011 at 3:05 pm

According to this article (http://www.nola.com/business/index.ssf/2011/03/post_35.html), renovations of the Orpheum started on 2/14/11.

Over the next 12-14 months they plan to repair the roof, stage, electrical, seating and everything else.

They are continuing to secure financing while the work progresses.

The previous owners (mentioned in above posts to 2009) sold the orpheum to a new owner in 2010.

gill on March 2, 2013 at 8:46 am

An excellent 1928 photo of the New Orleans Orpheum appears on the Historic-Memphis.com website theatre page. Here’s a link to the page.

frank gagliano
frank gagliano on February 6, 2014 at 11:31 am

The Orpheum was recently sold and is now scheduled to enjoy a $16 million restoration correcting he longstanding damages resulting from hurricane Katrina.

Good news for New Orleans theater lovers, all of the remaining downtown theaters have been restored, or, are in the process of restoration to their original beauty. Loews, Civic, Joy, Saenger, and the Orpheum all live again.

WTKFLHN on February 10, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Yes, Frank. The Theatre was recently sold to the owners of Tipitina’s. As you say, it’s to be remolded and will hopefully be the home of the La Philharmonic Symphony, again.

spectrum on August 19, 2014 at 9:45 am

New article about the Orpheum renovations, including a slide show of 2014 interior pictures:


spectrum on August 19, 2014 at 10:02 am

The renovation is already underway – from the photos in the link above, they are already working on the walls, seats and carpet are removed, everything’s well underway. The article describes the work as a $13,000,000 renovation which is expected to take about a year to complete. The new owner is Tiptina’s owner Roland von Kurnakowski who purchased it in February 2014. When it reopens, the Orpheum will not only host the Philharmonic Symphony, but will also have other concerts, movie showings and special events. The formerly unused basement will also be renovated and put to use.

spectrum on April 19, 2015 at 8:17 pm

Latest on their website: Opening planned for Fall 2015.

WTKFLHN on September 10, 2015 at 1:58 pm

Yes. The Orpheum is now open. Thanks to the folks at Tipitina’s

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