The Greater Omaha Chamber marketing team is on the move – experiencing the sights, sounds, creativity and tastes that typify our region. We’re exploring our community and encourage you to check out these Greater Omaha gems – because best-kept secrets are best uncovered.
It was Field Trip Friday on foot when the Greater Omaha Chamber’s marketing team took the two-block walk through the region’s historic Downtown Omaha district to visit the Orpheum Theater, home to Omaha Performing Arts, as well as host to a variety of celebrated local, and traveling, productions.
Built in 1927, on the site of the former Creighton Theater, the Orpheum Theater has a storied past that includes a 16-month, $2 million inaugural budget, and authentic French Renaissance touches, fully restored in 2001 by Omaha Performing Arts.
From the mainstage, where vaudeville acts have taken a bow to Broadway performances, 2,600 orchestra, loge, grand tier and balcony seats greet guests. The hanging Czech crystal chandelier is original to the building.
Backstage, rigging (hundreds of levers and pulleys) controls the theater’s curtains and drapes. At one time, exclusive dressing rooms, reserved for production stars, extended multiple stories stage left, behind the curtain, and were accessible by elevator. Theater renovations ultimately removed the private rooms, clearing a path for a high-performance HVAC system, and further modernization. Currently, performers prepare in spaces adjacent to, and below, the mainstage.
As vaudeville tap-danced into obscurity, and motion pictures gained ground, the Orpheum Theater added screens, projectors and film. In the theater’s renovated light booth, vintage projectors eye the mainstage as a throwback to a bygone era. No longer a movie theater, Omaha Performing Arts has invested more than $20 million in the venue since 2002.
In 2017, the Orpheum Theater celebrated its 90th anniversary, complete with more than $3 million in 2016 renovations funded by Omaha Performing Arts. Updated seating, fresh paint and new carpet ushered in the organization’s ninth decade, and set the stage for continuation of the region’s largest Broadway series, as well as home to a host of dance, comedy, operatic and theatre performances.
Check out some more behind-the-scenes photos.
It’s a wrap!