Orpheum Theatre

910 Hennepin Avenue,
Minneapolis, MN 55403

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Orpheum Theatre

The original Orpheum Theatre was opened in 1904 and was located on S. 7th Street and Hennepin Avenue. From 1921 it became the 7th Street Theatre.

It had been replaced by this ‘new’ Junior Orpheum Theatre which opened as the 3,500-seat Hennepin Theatre on 16th October 1921 as a vaudeville house for the Orpheum Circuit. Appearing on opening night were The 4 Marx Brothers. It was soon renamed Orpheum Theatre. It went over to movies in 1927 and the name was changed to RKO Orpheum Theatre.

The Orpheum Theatre ended its run as a movie house in 1979 and has been a legitimate theatre ever since.

Renovated in 1993, the Orpheum Theatre still showcases the best touring broadway shows in the country.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 23 comments)

williame303 on October 8, 2007 at 6:35 pm

I just attended a session of the National Trust for Historic Preservation at this theatre. And yes, it has a very odd lobby — long and narrow. As I had to catch the bus, I wasn’t able to walk around the block to get a better idea of how it all fits together. We were told in our printed material that Bob Dylan once owned this theatre. I don’t know how long or how it was used.

Ryan McGuire Grimes
Ryan McGuire Grimes on October 25, 2008 at 1:59 am

For those of you curious about the lobby, I recommend viewing the Orpheum’s Technical Specifications. The last page has a detailed floor plan of the main lobby, which faces Hennepin Avenue, and you will quickly see how the capacity of this lobby compares to the original 9th Street-facing lobby, which is now referred to as a “vestibule”, a more appropriate term for its size. The vestibule is quite awkward as it has low ceilings and its floor is severely graded to make up for the significant difference between the level of the foyer and street level.

The repositioning of the lobby adequately responds to the traffic issues when audiences arrive for a performance, but there is still a significant traffic problem when exiting. I recently attended a sold-out performance, at which I was seated toward the front on the right aisle. Ushers are positioned to prevent people from exiting onto 1st Avenue, so a majority of people go straight for the 9th Street exits (through the awkward vestibule) rather than snake back to the Hennepin Avenue entrance, which results in a pouring of people onto 9th Street due to the narrow sidewalk.

Aparofan on March 22, 2009 at 5:35 am

Here’s a 1997 shot of the Orpheum.

View link

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on October 31, 2010 at 9:47 pm

From the late 1950s a photo postcard view of the Orpheum along Gopher which is on the opposite side and up the street.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on July 28, 2011 at 6:04 pm

George Burns mentioned on his TV show (in 1954) that he played this theater.

theatre on October 4, 2013 at 11:08 am

The New Hennepin theatre is shown as the current Orpheum theatre on a few sites. It is a different building allgeather. It was on 9th street and Hennipen Ave. Is it still standing, or was it replaced by the current Orpheum?

dmmaasch on December 15, 2013 at 10:59 am

I managed the Orpheum Theatre at 910 Hennepin Avenue in the 1970’s. This is the second Orpheum theatre and, according to the blueprints, was built as the Junior Orpheum to the original theatre two blocks away, even though the surviving theatre is nearly 700 seats larger. I also have original blueprints of the main floor. It was originally designed, and was built as it now stands. The 9th Street vestibule was always meant to be for exiting only, it was never intended to be an entrance.

DavidZornig on May 20, 2015 at 7:24 pm

11/13/72 photo added, photo credit Denny Schwartz, courtesy of Gary Schwartz. Looking South from 9th Street.

DavidZornig on October 25, 2015 at 6:00 pm

1933 photo added courtesy of Randy Inghram.

DavidZornig on November 24, 2015 at 3:52 pm

1954 photo added. Photo credit Gary Schwartz, taken by his father.

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