Teatro Orfeon

Luis Moya 40,
Mexico City

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Additional Info

Architects: Drew Eberson, John Adolph Emil Eberson

Styles: Streamline Moderne

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Ticket Vestibule 1-4-16 photo courtesy Ben Leech of Lancaster

The huge El Cines Teatro Orfeon opened on 30th June 1938. Originally proposed to have a seating capacity of 6,000, it was listed as having 4,628 seats in 1945.

In late-1947 it was closed for a re-modelling to the plans of American architect John Eberson & Drew Eberson, and it re-opened on 12th February 1948 with 3,165 seats. After closing as a full time cinema it stood empty for many years falling into a state of decay and delapidation.

In 1996 it was purchased by production company OCESA Presents and assisted by the Disney Corporation it was given a ‘state of the arts’ full restoration and is now home to large scale stage productions such as Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” which opened to previews on 28th April 1997, having a first night performance on 8th May 1997 and closing on 28th April 1998.

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

juancarlos3 on December 4, 2004 at 9:30 pm

No tengo gusto de Disney implico con Teatro Orfeon que hacen que va el precio muy arriba no bueno para el ciudadano medio.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 7, 2004 at 11:22 am

aproximate translation of the above:

I do not like Disney and the Teatro Orfeon because the price is too expensive for ordinary citizens.

01081956 on August 8, 2005 at 7:11 pm

Since the showing of “Beauty and the Beast”, the Orfeon has been, apparently, abandoned again. It’s strange, because a lot of money was spent in the OCESA restoration. Perhaps is the fear of a structure failure, because the Orfeon is in a place where earthquakes have left their toll. The Orfeon was a very heavy building (it had three levels when opened, now has only two, and the roof was lowered many years ago); so heavy, in fact, that is actually sunk in the ground: the Luis Moya street shows a noticeable dip as it crosses in front of this building. Anyway it is not used any more (the theater, I mean). Next to this movie theater is another one, also closed: Alfa-Omega, previously known as “Pathé”.

01081956 on August 18, 2005 at 4:48 pm

Let’s continue with descriptions of the Orfeon’s look. The façade was broad and tall, its main feature being a big two-storie bellows-shaped window, slightly swelled in the middle. Below this, a rather unadorned marquee with dark background and white lighted letters announced the films. Above the window stood the theater’s name, in big Art Deco letters. The rest of this façade was rather bereft of decoration, with a row of small rectangular windows at the top, and vertical recessed strips at each side, containing round windows. These were intended to give illumination to the emergency stairs. All in all, a very pure Art Deco façade.
The interior was highlighted by a design in a pattern of superimposed arches, lighted at the edges. The smaller arch framed the screen, while the biggest reached the middle of the orchestra level. This design was not unlike the one found in the Radio City
Music Hall interior, but it was applied only around the screen area.
The rest of the spacious auditorium was adorned by means of a series of lighted columns, angled at the top as they touched the roof.
There were three levels in the cavernous interior. In México, the orchestra or lower level was known as ‘lunetario’, the seats named ‘lunetas’. The first balcony was named ‘anfiteatro’, while the second balcony was named ‘galeria’. A series of boxes sprouted from the first balcony, all the way toward the screen arches.
Incidentally, there was a separated entry for the galeria, with cheaper tickets, but people in the galeria were not allowed to enjoy the vestibule or foyer facilities.

afr on August 27, 2009 at 1:52 am

From the 2008 report of activities of CIE, OCESA’s parent company:

OCESA is involved in litigation with relation of the rent contract with the owner of the Teatro Orfeon. OCESA invested $30,000 (historic pesos) in the renovation of the theater. In opinion of the Company Administration Board and of the external legal advisers of OCESA who handle the case, there are high possibilities that the suit will resolve in the better interests of the Company. Even though there has been no changes on the status of the trial for the past two years. The current state of the trial allows OCESA to hold events on the venue, however the Company Administration Board has determined that no event shall be hosted on the venue until there is a final resolution of the legal process.

When the Teatro Orfeon was renovated OCESA purchased a lot behind the screen end of the building and added it to the actual building. In this lot they build the actual stage and other facilities needed to use the building as a live performance venue. When OCESA and the owner of the Teatro Orfeon (Mr. Reyero) went into litigation the stage and the front-house building were separated again, rendering unusable both buildings. In fact the production of The Beauty and the Beast closed down because of this legal issues.

It is important to mention that Disney never involved on the actual renovation of the building, their involvement was purely because of the actual theater production, and they only provided mild advice on the actual theater equipment.

The current state of the venue is deplorable, since 1998 it has received no maintenance at all and you can even still see the Beauty and the Beast marquee as used back in ‘98. Because the building and the stage were different buildings and they were later separated again, there are several issues with water leaking into the front of the house, causing real damage through each rain season.

The plans of OCESA are that as soon as they gain full control over the building they want to re-renovate the building and re-open it to a production of The Lion King. However the when of this is still lost in the air.

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