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The Orpheum Theater: Home to all manner of Memphis' performing arts

Orpheum Theater Memphis
Orpheum Theater Memphis
Molly Oster

Many visitors come to Memphis, from surrounding areas, to partake in Broadway shows hosted at Memphis’ historic Orpheum Theater. Located at the corner of South Main and world-renowned Beale Street, the Orpheum Theater stands as one of the few remaining “movie palaces” of the 1920s.

Labeled the “South’s Finest Theater,” the Orpheum has been the recipient of many facelifts. Originally built in 1890, as the Grand Opera House (billed as the classiest theater outside of New York City), the Grand became part of the Orpheum Circuit of vaudeville shows in 1907, thus giving birth to the name the Orpheum.

In 1923, a fire burned the Orpheum to the ground; however, in 1928, a new Orpheum was built in its place. From 1940-1976, the Orpheum was owned by Malco Theatres, Inc, and served as an upscale movie theater showing first-run movies for the elite of Memphis. In 1977, the Memphis Development Foundation purchased the Orpheum and since it has served as the preeminent theater for Broadway productions, ballet, and the opera. Additionally, the Memphis Development Foundation took necessary steps to place the Orpheum Theater on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

The last restorations made to the Orpheum took place in 1982, costing $5 million in renovations. Since its reopen, in 1984, the Orpheum has served as host to large-scale Broadway showings, such as Phantom of the Opera, Memphis, Les Miserables, and The Book of Mormon.

In recent years, the Orpheum has become more versatile hosting comedians, musicians, and their annual Summer Movie Series. Moreover, the Orpheum continues to embrace the arts, serving as home to Ballet Memphis and Opera Memphis.

Whether one plans to catch a movie, enjoy a Broadway musical, or partake in a historic tour of the facility, the Orpheum is guaranteed to offer up entertainment and fun to every one of its visitors.