it occurred to me after the recent reopening of broadway in memphis that i’ve never written a post about the orpheum theatre. i’ve mentioned various shows and concerts and events that i have attended in other posts, but i wanted to take a moment to express my appreciation for this gem once again.
my first visit to the orpheum was an elementary school field trip for an event i no longer remember the name of, and over the years i have returned again and again. my mother and i have been season ticket holders for their broadway series since 2017, enjoying performances of hamilton, rent!, wicked, aladdin, the play that goes wrong, something rotten!, and most recently come from away, among many others.
in addition to the broadway season, the orpheum also hosts – in non-covid years – a summer movie series that provides for some great nostalgia. they bring in a lot of musical guests, and over the years i have been lucky enough to see black violin, amos lee, leon bridges, and leslie odom, jr, perform. they used to host dinners on stage, and thanks to my friend jen who works there i have tagged along for a few and have become something of an expert on the backstage murals. i’ve also been able to see the nutcracker, peter pan, and alvin ailey ballet performances. and every year [when in person is possible] they host the national civil rights museum freedom awards; in 2019 jen invited me to be her plus-one and we were able to hear hafsat abiola and gloria steinem speak and to watch john legend perform. it was pretty incredible.
next door to the orpheum is the halloran center for performing arts, where i saw my first opera, attended indie memphis film festival performances, saw hasan minhaj perform a stand-up set, and once crashed the orpheum’s annual gala.
the orpheum has played a significant role in memphis’ history and in my own time in the city, and i am very grateful for its existence. i hope that memphians continue to support them for many generations to come.