Orpheum Theatre

216 State Street,
Madison, WI 53703

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DavidZornig on September 18, 2022 at 9:40 am

Stage Door Theatre mentioned in a 2011 comment, was located at 121 W. Johnson Street, on the back side of the Orpheum Theatre in the same building. I added a September 17th, 1982 print ad of a triple feature, via James Stegall to the gallery. It also hosted “Rocky Horror Picture Show” until June 1978, which then moved to the Majestic. Below is a Rocky Horror Wiki link, with a March 1976 print ad. The link says it was a 350 seat annex theatre that opened in 1969, and was still open in 1982 per the above print ad.
I added a CT page for the Stage Door Theatre, so the Admins can determine if it warrants it’s own page or not.


BigGreenBag on April 12, 2022 at 12:24 pm

Still open, but not showing movies. Same story as the Majestic Theater– both are now owned by Frank Productions, and both had their seats removed and re now concert venues

cdean on February 2, 2022 at 2:00 am

Gus Paras owned and ran Kosta’s Greek restaurant on State Street in the ‘80’s and 90’s. Nice he’s been so committed to the Madison CBD.

LouRugani on February 2, 2021 at 7:33 pm

(Dec. 7, 1968) – Accept Theater Pipe Organ for UW’s Parkside Campus –The University of Wisconsin-Parkside acquired a large and rare theater pipe organ Friday when the university board of regents accepted a gift valued at nearly $30,000 from the RKO-Stanley Warner Theaters of New York City. The instrument, a Barton Theater Pipe Organ, is valued at $26,500. A Barton Console lift and platform for the organ, valued at $3,000, is included in the gift. The organ is at the Capitol Theater in Madison, where it will remain until an auditorium for housing the huge instrument becomes available in the new building now under construction. Instrumental in obtaining the gift was Fred Hermes of Racine, chairman of the Dairyland Chapter of the American Association of Theater Organ Enthusiasts, a Parkside spokesman said. (Kenosha News)

DavidZornig on March 7, 2017 at 1:44 pm

1956 image added via below website.


DavidZornig on November 3, 2016 at 6:37 pm

Old/2014 & New/2016 marquee photos added, photo credit J.J. Sedelmaier. New Orpheum is on the new vertical.

Trolleyguy on July 6, 2016 at 10:29 pm

The new sign was installed today. Made of aluminum, the 40,000 pound vertical was fabricated locally. The lights will be illuminated on July 21. Story here: http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/orpheum-theater-sign-to-shine-over-state-street-once-again/article_004eff87-5d67-5281-9459-5ea90a169b3f.html

LouRugani on July 29, 2015 at 10:44 pm

The ORPHEUM’s owners since 2013 Gus and Mary Paras plan to do a $200,000 historic replication of its original six-story 63-foot 1926 vertical sign designed by Rapp and Rapp. The current steel face will be replaced with an aluminum replica using energy-efficient point lights in the original configuration. It’s still uncertain whether there will be chasers. In the 1930s the word “NEW” was removed from the top, and then it was “dumbed down” to what’s seen today.

The Paras family has already done restoration on the facade, marquee, ticket booth, roof, plaster, downstairs lavatories, dressing rooms, and HVAC. He said the community excitement was encouraging. Paras got a city facade restoration matching grant of up to $20,000 last year.

LouRugani on July 18, 2014 at 12:42 pm

(From host.madison.com )

The vintage Orpheum Theater, with its once-regal presence on State Street, is getting a facelift from the inside out. New co-owner Gus Paras is sprucing up the long-neglected auditorium. Interior artwork and stenciling are being restored with painstaking care. New front doors, resembling those that first swung open in 1927, are coming soon.

So are veiny black granite panels, meant to replace the blond brick that was put on the theater’s facade when it was “remuddled” in the 1960s.

“Remuddled” is the term of architect Arlan Kay, who has restored many a historic building and is overseeing changes to the Orpheum. Those changes are meant to undo alterations made to the movie palace half a century ago in the name of modernization.

The sign we see outside the Orpheum today is from that mid-century period. But oh, you should have seen what she looked like in her glory days.

Lights raced up and down the original sign, crowned with an Art Deco flair. The theater, designed by Chicago architects Rapp and Rapp, had cost a whopping $750,000 to build.

Now scarred with rust, the current sign stays in place because hanging a replacement over the sidewalk would violate city ordinances. City leaders are working on a solution.

It will take time — and many dollars — but one day the sparkling name Orpheum, like the theater itself, could again be a glamorous Downtown star.

MiltonSmith on October 25, 2012 at 2:46 am

Yes, so happy to see this theatre will be re-opening! I was rather worried about its future.

CSWalczak on October 18, 2012 at 4:31 pm

The theater, which had been closed recently, will be reopening son under the management of Frank Productions which hopes to purchase the theater when a bankruptcy sale is held: View article

MiltonSmith on August 24, 2012 at 8:57 pm

So sad, the future of this theater is in jeopardy due to feuding business partners. It would be nice to get new owners (actually, just replace the one owner who seems to have a history of shady dealings in Madison) and get that place back in business. So much work has been done and a lot to go and its still a VERY viable entertainment destination for downtown Madison!

Bordwell on June 27, 2012 at 1:57 pm

A rundown on the amazing saga of the Orpheum in recent years—scams, dodges, arson, and girlfriends. http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/crime_and_courts/blog/theater-of-the-absurd-how-bad-deals-shenanigans-have-brought/article_cdb20940-bfcf-11e1-a60f-001a4bcf887a.html

MiltonSmith on June 1, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Its my understanding this theater no longer shows movies anymore, its a live concert venue and used for weddings. They removed the seats all the way to 30' from the stage.

RickB on October 19, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Underage drinker blacks out, breaks fountain in theater: http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/entertainment/132088448.html

MiltonSmith on July 12, 2011 at 9:37 pm

According to what I have been reading, the Stage Door Theatre is in the process of being removed so they can restore the Orpheum stage to its full original size. This is being done to accommodate bigger shows on the stage. They will still be showing movies but the focus is being shifted to live performances and bigger shows.

rivest266 on September 4, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Stage Door grand opening ad is at View link

TLSLOEWS on July 6, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Very nice photos.

missmelbatoast on August 23, 2009 at 3:41 pm

This 1945 view comes courtesy of LIFE –
View link

kencmcintyre on March 27, 2009 at 8:46 pm

These folks had their wedding at the Orpheum:

Nushboy07 on December 16, 2008 at 9:49 am

I love seeing movie theatres that are still in business after so many years. It really keeps the history of the past alive. It’s fantastic! If only the NuWilshire Theatre was still around…Ughh…I miss working there.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on September 27, 2007 at 6:35 pm

Boy, they do everything except sell cigarettes out the stage door! They seem to be making a go of things, and that is great to see.

MiltonSmith on April 18, 2007 at 9:53 am

How is that marquee relighting fundraiser going?

dlroth on March 26, 2007 at 2:59 pm

Great picture. Email me if you want to be involved with our effort to Relight the Marquee. We can use all the support we can get. dlroth at hotmail dot com.

dlroth on December 8, 2006 at 8:38 pm

The fundraiser is this Tuesday night and includes a screening of the movie We Are Marshall. Come down to support this beautiful landmarks restoration effort. Tickets are availible at www.orpheumtheatre.net