Orpheum Theatre

216 State Street,
Madison, WI 53703

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DavidZornig on March 7, 2017 at 11:44 am

1956 image added via below website.


DavidZornig on November 3, 2016 at 4:37 pm

Old/2014 & New/2016 marquee photos added, photo credit J.J. Sedelmaier. New Orpheum is on the new vertical.

Trolleyguy on July 6, 2016 at 8:29 pm

The new sign was installed today. Made of aluminum, the 40,000 pound vertical was fabricated locally. The lights will be illuminated on July 21. Story here: http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/orpheum-theater-sign-to-shine-over-state-street-once-again/article_004eff87-5d67-5281-9459-5ea90a169b3f.html

LouRugani on July 29, 2015 at 8:44 pm

The ORPHEUM’s owners since 2013 Gus and Mary Paras plan to do a $200,000 historic replication of its original six-story 63-foot 1926 vertical sign designed by Rapp and Rapp. The current steel face will be replaced with an aluminum replica using energy-efficient point lights in the original configuration. It’s still uncertain whether there will be chasers. In the 1930s the word “NEW” was removed from the top, and then it was “dumbed down” to what’s seen today.

The Paras family has already done restoration on the facade, marquee, ticket booth, roof, plaster, downstairs lavatories, dressing rooms, and HVAC. He said the community excitement was encouraging. Paras got a city facade restoration matching grant of up to $20,000 last year.

LouRugani on July 18, 2014 at 10:42 am

(From host.madison.com )

The vintage Orpheum Theater, with its once-regal presence on State Street, is getting a facelift from the inside out. New co-owner Gus Paras is sprucing up the long-neglected auditorium. Interior artwork and stenciling are being restored with painstaking care. New front doors, resembling those that first swung open in 1927, are coming soon.

So are veiny black granite panels, meant to replace the blond brick that was put on the theater’s facade when it was “remuddled” in the 1960s.

“Remuddled” is the term of architect Arlan Kay, who has restored many a historic building and is overseeing changes to the Orpheum. Those changes are meant to undo alterations made to the movie palace half a century ago in the name of modernization.

The sign we see outside the Orpheum today is from that mid-century period. But oh, you should have seen what she looked like in her glory days.

Lights raced up and down the original sign, crowned with an Art Deco flair. The theater, designed by Chicago architects Rapp and Rapp, had cost a whopping $750,000 to build.

Now scarred with rust, the current sign stays in place because hanging a replacement over the sidewalk would violate city ordinances. City leaders are working on a solution.

It will take time — and many dollars — but one day the sparkling name Orpheum, like the theater itself, could again be a glamorous Downtown star.

MiltonSmith on October 25, 2012 at 12:46 am

Yes, so happy to see this theatre will be re-opening! I was rather worried about its future.

CSWalczak on October 18, 2012 at 2:31 pm

The theater, which had been closed recently, will be reopening son under the management of Frank Productions which hopes to purchase the theater when a bankruptcy sale is held: View article

MiltonSmith on August 24, 2012 at 6:57 pm

So sad, the future of this theater is in jeopardy due to feuding business partners. It would be nice to get new owners (actually, just replace the one owner who seems to have a history of shady dealings in Madison) and get that place back in business. So much work has been done and a lot to go and its still a VERY viable entertainment destination for downtown Madison!

Bordwell on June 27, 2012 at 11:57 am

A rundown on the amazing saga of the Orpheum in recent years—scams, dodges, arson, and girlfriends. http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/crime_and_courts/blog/theater-of-the-absurd-how-bad-deals-shenanigans-have-brought/article_cdb20940-bfcf-11e1-a60f-001a4bcf887a.html

MiltonSmith on June 1, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Its my understanding this theater no longer shows movies anymore, its a live concert venue and used for weddings. They removed the seats all the way to 30' from the stage.

RickB on October 19, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Underage drinker blacks out, breaks fountain in theater: http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/entertainment/132088448.html

MiltonSmith on July 12, 2011 at 7:37 pm

According to what I have been reading, the Stage Door Theatre is in the process of being removed so they can restore the Orpheum stage to its full original size. This is being done to accommodate bigger shows on the stage. They will still be showing movies but the focus is being shifted to live performances and bigger shows.

rivest266 on September 4, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Stage Door grand opening ad is at View link

TLSLOEWS on July 6, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Very nice photos.

missmelbatoast on August 23, 2009 at 1:41 pm

This 1945 view comes courtesy of LIFE –
View link

kencmcintyre on March 27, 2009 at 6:46 pm

These folks had their wedding at the Orpheum:

Nushboy07 on December 16, 2008 at 7:49 am

I love seeing movie theatres that are still in business after so many years. It really keeps the history of the past alive. It’s fantastic! If only the NuWilshire Theatre was still around…Ughh…I miss working there.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on September 27, 2007 at 4:35 pm

Boy, they do everything except sell cigarettes out the stage door! They seem to be making a go of things, and that is great to see.

MiltonSmith on April 18, 2007 at 7:53 am

How is that marquee relighting fundraiser going?

dlroth on March 26, 2007 at 12:59 pm

Great picture. Email me if you want to be involved with our effort to Relight the Marquee. We can use all the support we can get. dlroth at hotmail dot com.

dlroth on December 8, 2006 at 6:38 pm

The fundraiser is this Tuesday night and includes a screening of the movie We Are Marshall. Come down to support this beautiful landmarks restoration effort. Tickets are availible at www.orpheumtheatre.net

tmsenzig on November 26, 2006 at 8:27 pm

There was an article in the Wisconsin State Journal about potentially relighting the landmark Orpheum sign which towers over State Street. The estimated cost was given to be about $200,000.

Trolleyguy on November 21, 2006 at 7:42 pm

To help relight the marquee, the Orpheum will be hosting an advanced presentation of the new WB movie, “We Are Marshall.” Proceeds from this will be put toward refurbishing the sign to its former glory. Details are on the official website above.

dlroth on October 25, 2006 at 8:40 am

Lost Memory. Can you pleasse email me at I’m putting together a fundraiser to relight the Orpheum marquee and would love to use your picture.