The Orpheum Theatre was built in 1927 by the legendary theatre architects Rapp & Rapp. This was the era of vaudeville and movie houses. The Orpheum Theatre was the place to see the latest performance or silent movie. A Kimball pipe organ was once a mainstay in the Orpheum Theatre. As the Orpheum Theatre evolved, the organ was removed and now sits in the Weill Center in Sheboygan, WI.
The Orpheum Theatre has drawn the likes of Bob Marley and Elvis Costello over the years, but has been in need of renovation as the century came to a close. In 1999, restaurateur Henry Doane bought the Orpheum Theatre and promised to restore the neglected building.
With space to seat 2,400, the Orpheum Theatre is rich with a French Renaissance feel. The grand lobby of the Orpheum Theatre alone draws visitors in the doors. The split staircase and intricate molding of the lobby at the Orpheum makes obvious the theatre’s 75 year history. With a restaurant and rental facilities available for private events, the Orpheum fills a range of roles for the Madison community.
Today, the Orpheum Theatre is divided into two spaces, the theatre and a separate smaller space, known as the Stage Door. Unfortunately, in the recent past, the Orpheum Theatre has been the victim of vandalism and arson attempts. In 2004, a fire caused an estimated $100,000 in damages to the Orpheum Theatre. Across the street from the Orpheum Theatre sits the Madison Civic Center.
Currently, residents of Madison visit the Orpheum Theatre to see the latest independent and foreign films as well as musical acts, such as The Fray, Wilco, Ween or Trey Anastasio. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is currently a mainstay at the Orpheum Theatre.
The Orpheum Theatre will have some new competition in the Madison market once the brand new six-screen Sundance Cinema Center opens in the fall of 2006 at the Hilldale Mall.
216 State Street
Madison, WI 53703