The Orpheum Theater
While we are known for our majestic beaches and amazing movie palaces, sometimes people forget that Los Angeles has a huge theatre following as well. From gigantic productions at the Pantages Theatre or at the Music Center. From the Disney Concert Hall to the theaters that used to line “Broadway” in Downtown LA, there are many great, old and historic theaters to know and love here. One of these is the Orpheum.
Built in the early 1920’s and opened in 1926, the Orpheum (named for Greek mythological figure Orpheus, a legendary musician, poet & prophet) was the fourth and final Los Angeles venue for the Orpheum vaudeville circuit. It has a Beaux Arts facade designed by movie theater architect G. Albert Lansburgh. One of the coolest features of the Orpheum is that it has a Mighty Wurlitzer organ which was installed in 1928 and is one of the last 3 pipe organs remaining in Southern California Theatre Venues.
Back when it was built, The Orpheum was a popular venue for burlesque queen Sally Rand, the Marx Brothers, Will Rogers, Frances “baby” Gumm (otherwise known as Judy Garland), comedian Jack Benny, jazz greats Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington. Whew…and that is just a short list of who’s who in Old Hollywood that performed there. While it was also a vaudeville theatre until the 50’s, it eventually changed over to a popular place for concerts. Have you ever heard of Little Richard, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder? So have we. And the theatre at the Orpheum hosted them in the 1960’s as their stars were rising.
Like most theaters from this time period, it eventually fell into disrepair, but underwent a $3 million dollar renovation in 1989. It is currently the most restored theater on Broadway in Downtown LA. Now it is used as a major venue for concerts, movie premieres and location shoots.
You might recognize The Orpheum from American Idol, The Apprentice or America’s Got Talent. Currently you can see some major shows by Live Nation there as well as comedians and special performances for charities.
You can see the Orpheum and many great theaters that LA has to offer when you choose Downtown LA option on our Build Your Own Tour.