Orpheum Theater, 910 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Orpheum Theater

Historic Photo of Orpheum Marquee circa 1943
Current Photo of Orpheum Marquee circa 2008
Address: 910 Hennepin Avenue
Neighborhood/s: Downtown West, Minneapolis, Minnesota
City/locality-
State/province
Minneapolis, Minnesota
County-
State/province:
Hennepin County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year built: 1921
Additions: Rear of stage extended in 1993 to accommodate larger performances
Historic Function: Theater/concert hall
Current Function: Theater/concert hall
Architect or source of design: Kirchoff and Rose
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Brick
Material of Roof: Aluminum
Material of Foundation: Concrete

Downtown West Minneapolis Hennepin County

Orpheum Theater, 910 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota
(44.976396° N, 93.277509° WLatitude: 44°58′35.026″N
Longitude: 93°16′39.032″W
)
National Register of Historic Places Information
Reference Number: 95001548
Certification date: January 19, 1996
Primary Style: Beaux Arts
Year/s of Major Alterations: 1993


The Orpheum Theatre, originally known as the Hennepin, opened in 1921 and seats 2,579. It is seated in the heart of the Hennepin Theater District in Downtown West, between 9th and 8th Avenues. It’s proximity to State Theater and the Pantages Theater has solidified the area as the heart of arts and theater in Minneapolis since its inception.

Contents


Memories and stories

Construction and Early Operation

Designed by the Milwaukee firm of Kirchoff and Rose in a Beaux Arts style, its first performers included the Marx Brothers with more than 70,000 guests attending the opening week run. Billed as the largest vaudeville house in the country when opened, it became a major outlet for such entertainers as Jack Benny, George Burns and Fanny Brice. The Orpheum featured a playroom and day care off the mezzanine lobby and backstage had eight floors of dressing rooms. As vaudeville declined in the 1930s-’40s, the Orpheum became one of Minneapolis’s major cinema houses, with Gone with the Wind in 1940 selling out every show for three weeks. It also hosted big bands including Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and Count Basie. In 1959, Ted Mann, owner of six other downtown Minneapolis theatres including the Pantages, bought the Orpheum and brought in touring productions including My Fair Lady and Fiddler on the Roof. Movies also continued to be shown, with the 1965 James Bond film Thunderball shattering box office records. The Orpheum set a Minneapolis record for first run engagements of Best Picture Oscar winners–nine in all–including From Here to Eternity in 1953 and The Godfather in 1972.

Renovation

In 1988, the Minneapolis Community Development Agency purchased the Orpheum from singer Bob Dylan and his brother, David Zimmerman, who owned the theatre. Restoration began in 1993 and, to accommodate elaborate Broadway productions, the Orpheum stage was extended almost 20 feet, with the back wall of the theatre painstakingly removed brick by brick. Unexpected architectural discoveries made during the renovation of the lobby included six Pompeiian friezes previously hidden under velour curtains, fake window grids and a false wall. The chandelier in the main auditorium is the theatre centerpiece. It is 15 feet high and weighs 2,000 pounds. Following a $10 million restoration, the Orpheum re-opened in December 1993 with a concert by Heart and in January 1994 with the Broadway production of Miss Saigon.

Current Operation

Productions that have originated at the Orpheum include Victor/Victoria, the pre-Broadway world premiere of Disney’s The Lion King and the national tour premiere of Elton John and Tim Rice’s AIDA. Hennepin Theatre Trust is now the owner and operator of the Theater, as well as the adjacent Pantages and State Theater

Importance to Hennepin Avenue

Photo Gallery

Image:St8ofhockey--Orpheum1.jpg

Image:St8ofhockey--OrpheumHist3.jpg

Notes

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