War Horse characters Joey and Topthorn. Photo copyright  Brinkhoff/Mogenburg.
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Wicked and The Book of Mormon Coming Soon to Memphis’ Historic Orpheum Theatre

Rollick far enough west on Beale Street and you’ll meet the Orpheum Theatre. It
might at first seem an unlikely neighbor to Beale’s close-packed kaleidoscope of color and sound.

Photo by Douglas K. Hill.

Outside Memphis’ historic Orpheum Theatre at the corner of Beale Street and South Main. Photo by Douglas K. Hill.

But consider the history and the programming: After opening as the Grand Opera House on this site in 1890, the theater became a fixture on the vaudeville circuit. View today’s line-up – the sum of Broadway hits, a family series, headlining musicians and speakers – and you get a real variety show.

What to see this season

Get tickets now for Wicked. (The Orpheum’s expecting a minimum of 56,000 people to see the show during its Jan. 29-Feb. 16 Memphis run.)

Jennifer DiNoia in Wicked. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Jennifer DiNoia in Wicked. Photo by Joan Marcus.

 

Go ahead and reserve seats for two additional Tony-laden musicals coming to the theater: War Horse (March 25-30) and The Book of Mormon (June 24-29).

War Horse characters Joey and Topthorn. Photo copyright  Brinkhoff/Mogenburg.

War Horse characters Joey and Topthorn. Photo copyright Brinkhoff/Mogenburg.

Phyre Hawkins, Mark Evans, Christopher O’Neill, THE BOOK OF MORMON First National Tour. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Phyre Hawkins, Mark Evans and Christopher O’Neill in The Book of Mormon (First National Tour). Photo by Joan Marcus.

Or, treat the family to the acrobatic spectacle FROGZ! (Feb. 21-22). Hear The Tenors (Feb. 23). Get Tyler Perry’s take on Hell Hath No Fury Like A Woman Scorned (March 6-9). Let Jillian Michaels “maximize your life” (March 14). View The Orpheum’s full schedule of events here.

Tour The Orpheum

I love an old theater, particularly one as lavish as The Orpheum. (Think: Brocade and gilding everywhere; original Czechoslovakian chandeliers.)

Caption.

Inside the auditorium of Memphis’ Orpheum Theatre. Photo by Douglas K. Hill.

For a closer look:

1. Reserve a seat at Dinner on Stage (next up: March 1 at 6 p.m.; tickets $75 for non-subscribers; participation limited to 90 guests). The evening flows from a cocktail reception to a tour of the theater (including backstage), a three-course meal with wine, and Broadway trivia. Showy as The Orpheum is, Pat Halloran will steal the show as your tour guide and storyteller for the evening. As president and CEO of the Memphis Development Foundation that operates The Orpheum, Halloran’s stories are endless, entertaining and insightful – he came to the job in 1980 to raise $5 million to save the theater, which, like Beale Street and The Peabody Hotel nearby, had been shuttered by the mid-1970s. Halloran not only raised the money for The Orpheum’s grand re-opening in 1984, he helped raise downtown Memphis back up along with it. In the years since, Halloran has won three Tony Awards for his work as a producer (on Memphis, Spamalot and Thoroughly Modern Millie).

Walk The Orpheum’s “Sidewalk of Stars” to see a roster of celebrities who’ve performed here over the years. Then, walk east on Beale to the Brass Note Walk of Fame, a who’s who of Memphis musicians (including many Memphis Music Hall of Famers). Photo by Jessi Scherr.

2. Schedule a tour: Because tours must be scheduled around shows, they don’t follow a regular schedule. However, groups of 20-plus can contact Joy Brown at 901-529-7800 (allow at least two weeks’ notice). And, in celebration of The Orpheum’s 85th year, you may see some anniversary tours pop up. I’d watch Facebook for news.

What’s on your must-see list at The Orpheum this season? Tell us in the comments section below.

Hi! I’m Samantha Crespo, and I am Floridian by birth, Tennessean by heart. Growing up, I vacationed in East Tennessee, so I...Read on

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