Theatre mogul Karl Hobitzelle opened the Orpheum on Sept. 4, 1922, as the first atmospheric theater in the country. An atmospheric theater is one designed with a sky-like ceiling adorned with vibrant, sparkling lights, resembling stars.
The Orpheum also houses beautiful décor, like its plaster moldings and intricate fixtures. The arch is one of the main staples of the auditorium. The whole theatre is built to portray the ambience of a Spanish courtyard.
It was built to be a vaudeville house, but was later transformed to show “talkies,” to keep up with the times. The theater closed for a short period of time, but was saved from demolition in 1984 with a donation to the Orpheum Performing Arts Center, a non-profit organization was created, and that same year, the building was put on the National Register of Historic Places list.
The Orpheum Theatre has more than 1,200 seats creating an intimate space, perfect for concerts, movies, comedy, dance and local church services. During its early years, the theater saw the likes of George Burns and Gracie Allen, Houdini, Fanny Brice and The Marx Brothers. Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Bela Lugosi and Ella Fitzgerald also graced the Orpheum stage.
Modern acts to have played at this historical venue include, Melissa Etheridge, Gavin DeGraw, David Blaine, Bobby Bones, Jim Brickman and Dave Chapelle.
Patrons can also catch movies including classics like Smokey and the Bandit or timeless holiday films like Miracle on 34th Street.
Find out more about local music venues by clicking here.