Orpheum Theatre

216 State Street,
Madison, WI 53703

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LouRugani
LouRugani on July 18, 2014 at 6:42 pm

(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
MiltonSmith on October 25, 2012 at 8:46 am

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

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on October 18, 2012 at 10:31 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
MiltonSmith on August 25, 2012 at 2:57 am

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
Bordwell on June 27, 2012 at 7:57 pm

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
MiltonSmith on June 2, 2012 at 2:44 am

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
RickB on October 20, 2011 at 2:15 am

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

MiltonSmith
MiltonSmith on July 13, 2011 at 3:37 am

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
rivest266 on September 5, 2010 at 12:31 am

Stage Door grand opening ad is at View link

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on July 6, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Very nice photos.

cbnight
cbnight on May 27, 2010 at 10:32 pm

2010 interior photo
View link

missmelbatoast
missmelbatoast on August 23, 2009 at 9:41 pm

This 1945 view comes courtesy of LIFE –
View link

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on March 28, 2009 at 1:46 am

These folks had their wedding at the Orpheum:
http://tinyurl.com/cscblq

Nushboy07
Nushboy07 on December 16, 2008 at 3:49 pm

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 28, 2007 at 12:35 am

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
MiltonSmith on April 18, 2007 at 3:53 pm

How is that marquee relighting fundraiser going?

dlroth
dlroth on March 26, 2007 at 8:59 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
dlroth on December 9, 2006 at 2:38 am

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
tmsenzig on November 27, 2006 at 4:27 am

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
Trolleyguy on November 22, 2006 at 3:42 am

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
dlroth on October 25, 2006 at 4:40 pm

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.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on August 12, 2006 at 6:08 pm

This must have been close to the opening in 1927:
http://tinyurl.com/h3xey

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on August 12, 2006 at 6:00 pm

The MGM traveling theater in 1933:
http://tinyurl.com/eth8v