Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Orpheum's Summer Movie Series is a Memphis tradition. Every year, the Theatre shows classics on its giant screen. It's a throwback to the era when the Orpheum was Malco's flagship movie theatre. From 1940 to 1975, the Orpheum screened first run movies. The Theatre closed when Malco decided they should follow the population trend. Memphians were moving East and Malco built the Ridgeway Four to serve as it's new flagship. Malco has theatres all over the region now, but I would say that The Paradiso is their flagship. It's interesting that the population has pushed way beyond the 240 loop (to the point that we are now constructing another outer loop) yet the pride of Malco is now west of its 1960s flagship. I guess it was important for them to keep it in Memphis.

Back to the Series. In the sweltering summer heat, it's always great to sit in a nice cool movie theatre for a couple hours. The Summer Movie Series is appealing because you get to sit in the air-conditioned Orpheum, watch a film as it was orignially meant to be seen- none of those, it has been formatted to fit your screen disclaimers, and it's afforable. Summer Movie Series tickets are just $6 for adults and $5 for seniors and children under 12. This year, I think Jaws is one that will provide a different experience for those of us who have only seen it on a 27" TV.

The first movie I saw at the Orpheum was Easy Rider when I was 14. I loved the film and Jack Nicholson's performance. It's unbelievable. I ended up wacthing all of his films as a result. I also snatched a "Solid Rock 92.9 WMFS!" t-shirt thrown to the crowd that night. This year, Easy Rider is back on July 17!
Other than a few exceptions, movies will begin at 7:15pm on Friday nights. There is also a Chick Flick series with movies starting at 7:15pm on Thursday nights. Tickets go on-sale two hours before the movie starts. Cash only. Drinks and snacks are available at the Theatre. Full movie details will be up on soon.

A couple of other interesting things about this year's Series:
On May 28, the Disney classic Swiss Family Robinson will be shown on a special Thursday Family Night. Admission is a 50 cent donation to the Theare's ARTreach education program.

Sunday, August 9- The Orpheum teams with EPE to bring you Blue Hawaii featuring The King. It will be screened at 6pm as part of Elvis Tribute Week festivities.

August 21 is Paul Newman Tribute Night. There is a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Cool Hand Luke double feature to honor the late screen legend.

As always, costumes and audience participation are encouraged at Rocky Horror!

The complete list:
Classic Movies*
May 22---Breakfast at Tiffany’s
May 28---Swiss Family Robinson
May 29---Young Frankenstein
June 12---JAWS
June 19---Animal House
July 17---Easy Rider
July 24---Casablanca
August 9---Blue Hawaii
August 14---Wizard of Oz
August 21---Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid/Cool Hand Luke
August 28---Gone With the Wind
September 4--- The Rocky Horror Picture Show

June 11--- Sex and the City
July 23--- The Way We Were
August 6--- Funny Girl
August 7---Mamma Mia
August 20---Fried Green Tomatoes

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

100,000 Strong for Memphis in May

On Friday, May 1st shortly after 5pm, our nondescript, thirty acre park nestled humbly between the Mississippi and the bluffs will be transformed into the fifth largest city in Tennessee. Over 100,000 music lovers will pack the park on Friday and then again on Saturday.

So far, the weather for Friday looks great! 82/64, Partly Cloudy; 10% chance of rain.

Who do Memphians most want to see? I polled some of the office. After all, there is something for everyone.

Victoria: Amos Lee
Leanne: P. Funk, The Cult, 311
Matt2: Al Green
Josh: Ben Harper; Medeski, Martin and Wood; Susan Tedeschi
Matt1: 311
Jennifer: Katy Perry
Holli: James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt
Teresa: Steve Miller, Bonnie Raitt, Al Green, James Taylor
Kate: Bonnie Raitt, The Roots, Katy Perry, G. Love, Al Green, John Lee Hooker, Los Lobos, Bar-Kays, Cedric Burnside, Elvis Costello, Three Six Mafia, Chancho En Piedra

The Orpheum will have 20-25 parking spaces in the lot right next to the Theatre's south wall. It's $20, which is what most garages and lots along Front Street charge. You usually have to go a few blocks east to find lots that are $15.
The advantages of the Orpheum lot? You don't have to get in and out of a garage. There is a gate with a security guard on duty. There are also two security cameras mounted on top of the Theatre that are trained on the lot.

These spots will go fast. It's only slightly over a block to the festival entrance. You'll be doing a lot of walking from stage to stage, and quite a bit of standing. It pays not to wear yourself out ahead of time.

security camera

The MLGW garage at Front and Linden is also a good place to park, just in case you plan on shotgunning a few beers or -guys-- need a last place to urinate before you get to the park. Not condoning it, but hey it happens. I park there on Mondays. I know. It's safe and usually doesn't fill up. Last year, I think it was $20 as well.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Downtown Memphis: A Ghost Town?

I came across a letter to the editor in the Commercial Appeal that proposed that Downtown Memphis is losing young people,and we all should start preparing for its demise.

Here is what Ryan Haskett from Collierville had to say:
"With its walls collapsing on its citizens, Memphis has to face the reality that it is becoming very unattractive. With the closing of Jillians and the conversion of Peabody Place to a luxury suite hotel, the Grizzlies getting little traffic, John Calipari's escape to Kentucky, Downtown Memphis is losing its value to young people.
What do young people have to do in Downtown anymore? A ballet at the Orpheum? We need to polish up the city and bring the life back to Downtown. Otherwise, the conglomerate of suburbs we are creating will trouble the city financially forever. The suburban restaurants and shopping centers will be busy, while Downtown Memphis will become a ghost town."

Ryan, Ryan, Ryan. I can't quite see how you equated the physical collapse of an old building to the collapse of the vibrant life in downtown. My first recommendation would be to sign up for the Center City Commission's Livin' It Up newsletter. You can subscribe for free here

You will be amazed at all of the fun stuff there is to do down here. Fun stuff that may not receive a mention in the Commercial Appeal.

I also live in the suburbs but find myself venturing downtown more often than I ever have. Going to the movies or bowling and eating at chain restaurants can only sustain a person for so long. Sameness is pervasive. So, I come down here and try something new.

There are 71 restaurants downtown and the best of these compares with the dining experience in any other major city in the country. However, there are no Chik-Fil-A’s or Olive Gardens.

It’s true the Grizzlies are struggling for attendance but this is not a reflection on our downtown. Most NBA cities have difficulty filling the seats when the team is losing. When the team puts a respectable product on the floor and starts winning, fans will return to those games. We are new to the major professional sports franchise game. It hasn’t been 10 years yet. I remember sold out playoff games not that long ago. Cleveland wasn’t selling out any games 7 years ago. Now, they sell more tickets than New York, Boston , and Los Angeles.

Calipari left, but there is a capable coach to follow him. Calipari wasn’t the primary reason that fans packed the Forum. We should be excited about being the school where the best young basketball mind -as most insiders agree- is getting his start. Pastner may eventually solidify himself as one of the next crop of legendary coaches. Someone has to fill the void that will soon be left by Coach K, Bobby Knight, and Boeheim. It shall be interesting to see. Unlike the Grizzlies, Tigers fans are not fair weather and will continue to support this team by coming to the games. I haven’t seen people wearing less Tiger gear than usual. People aren’t taking the stuff off their cars.

Jillian’s was vastly overrated. Did you ever eat there? The food was terrible even for a bar, and the service was worse. It wasn’t really a young person’s “hangout”. The Flying Saucer is a much better establishment and appeals to young and old.

What do young people have to do downtown, other than see a ballet at The Orpheum? What’s wrong with ballet? Do you feel the same way about the opera and the symphony? Who says young people don’t like these? Opera Memphis has a Young Friends of the Opera initiative designed to mobilize its young professional crowd.

I urge you to check the CCC newsletter for an expanded list of things to do downtown, but here are just a few that keep me coming.
The South Main Trolley Tour… so much fun. I love the feel of this event. I don’t get it from any other Memphis event. All ages will enjoy this. There are some interesting shops with original design garments down this corridor. It’s stuff you can’t buy in every other place across the United States.

Beale Street…always something going on. Even as a local, you have to take advantage of this ever so often. Last month after a concert at the New Daisy, I had a Dyer’s hamburger for the first time and… it was amazing. Ground Zero Blues Club-- It’s a street over on Lt. George W. Lee Ave., but it was also very tasty last week.

What about the Redbirds? I still know lots of people who come down to watch our pro baseball team. In fact, I’m headed there this Thursday for the game vs. the Iowa Cubs. I don’t even like baseball but hey it’s a rite of spring.
The Memphis in May Events -- Music Festival, BBQ Fest, Sunset Symphony—will draw thousands of Mid-Southerners downtown in the next few weeks.

The Civil Rights Museum, it’s been here for almost 20 years. You should see it if you haven’t. No excuses. I recommend it to all of the Broadway casts that come to Memphis. It’s surprising the number of Memphians who haven’t been to see and to learn about this era. It is forever tied to our city and continues to inform its relationships.

Finally, there is more that happens at The Orpheum than ballet!! There are shows geared to small children, tweens, teens, young professionals, parents, and seniors. Great shows like Legally Blonde and The Color Purple and concerts like Death Cab for Cutie and Celtic Woman have all graced the Orpheum stage this year, and the audience has been predominantly young!

Nearly 60,000 people will come downtown for the three week run of WICKED this summer. Far from a ghost town, that’s 20,000 more than the population of Collierville. Also this summer, The Orpheum’s Summer Movie Series will allow those of us born after 1975 to enjoy films like JAWS on the big screen, the way they were intended to be seen. The pre-school set can venture to Main and Beale to see Bob The Builder (fresh from fixing the Denny’s Wall) LIVE on the Orpheum stage in June.

You don't mention safety, but this is often brought up by those who refuse to take advantage of the city's amenities. I feel you touch on this when you say we need to "polish up the city". I don't feel any less safe here than I feel in my neighborhood community. The statistics show that downtown is the safest precinct in Memphis. If you stay in downtown's core, you should be fine. People are everywhere down here on nice weekend nights. The number of Memphians you will see out should allay any fears of dangerous encounters. Check the Downtown Safety Report

Downtown Memphis has plenty to offer. It is the most exciting entertainment area in our region, and it is the responsibility of the unacquainted to change their mindset through exploration.

Here's how Susanne Heartsill responded in letter to the Editor published today:
"As a Downtown resident and business owner, I respectfully disagree with the rather grouchy take on the Downtown scene expressed in an April 21 letter to the editor.

My husband and I are young people as well as the parents of two young people, and we enjoy our surroundings greatly. Sure, we have the same problems and blight any large city must endure, but brighten up -- Downtown Memphis is full of life and possibilities.

Sunday afternoon lunch at Tug's, walks at the river, fabulous ballet at the Orpheum, beautiful and historic architecture, the Victorian Village, churches, the Memphis Farmers Market on Saturdays, art, barbecue, you name it.

Looking for something edgier? How about any of the fantastic bars, restaurants, roof parties, bands or Beale Street? Downtown is the furthest thing from a ghost town. The letter writer doesn't know what he's missing if he isn't here. As for me and my family, we wouldn't live anywhere else."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Star Search Champion Set to Perform in D.C.

Local high school student Brandon Bailey will perform at the 2009 Jefferson Awards for Public Service Gala Dinner and National Ceremony. The event will held at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. on June 15. Bailey, 17, was extended an invitation to perform after winning the Orpheum Theatre’s 6th Annual Star Search competition in October of last year.

Co-founded by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the Jefferson Awards are a prestigious national recognition system honoring community and public service in America. They began in 1972 to create a Nobel Prize for public service. Local winners are chosen in communities across the country, and one of these recipients is selected by the Awards Board to represent their community and be honored at the National Ceremonies. As many as 60 U.S. Senators attend the event and present the winners with their Award. The event concludes with the selection of a National Award winner in four categories.

This won’t be Brandon’s first time in the spotlight. On October 18, 2008, he wowed the judges on his way to being named 2008 Orpheum Star Search Champion. His blues harmonica rendition of “Whammer Jammer” by the J. Geils Band was a favorite of the audience who turned out to watch the Mid-South’s best young talent. Bailey’s heartfelt and inspired playing served as an appropriate warm-up act for special performances by recording artists and American Idol alums Kimberly Locke and Justin Guarini. In January of 2009, Bailey competed against Blues musicians from around the world at the International Blues Challenge.

Check out some footage of Brandon out on News Channel 3's Live at 9:

More on Brandon Bailey .
Brandon began playing the harmonica when his grandmother told him that his great-grandfather used to play train songs on the blues harp. He has performed at the Mid-South Fair, the Helena Blues Fest, Cooper-Young Night Out, and on Live at Nine. Brandon has played with some of the best performers in the country, including Adam Gussow of Satan and Adam, Jason Ricci and the New Blood, Blind Mississippi Morris, and Vince Johnson and the Juke Joint All-Stars. Brandon plans to go into the medical field to become a pediatric neurologist.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Block party and Rooftop Party

Last Thursday, the Orpheum participated in the Main and Peabody Place Block party. If you missed out on this, there are more to come this spring and summer!
The Majestic Grille, Circa, Bluefin, Center for Southern Folklore, and Shelton Clothiers offered very generous specials. Plus, there was live music.

Orpheum staff members set up a table with more info on Fiddler on the Roof and a show called Wicked.

The group Devil Train complete with fiddle player provided the entertainment, and the 1971 Fiddler on the Roof film adapatation was screened inside The Majestic Grille.

After the Block Party, we headed over to the Peabody Rooftop party which is always a blast. Maney and Riley from Q 107.5 were there giving away WICKED t-shirts, hats, and keychains. They also gave one lucky fan the coveted first spot in line for Wicked tickets the next morning.

It was great meeting everyone and being at these events. Looking forward to being involved in more outdoor events downtown now that the weather is nice!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Opera Week at The Majestic Grille

The Majestic Grille has great specials lined up for this week in conjunction with the opera Faust which plays the Orpheum on April 25 and 28. The restaurant is a strong supporter of the Arts, and one of the first restaurants to sign up for the Orpheum Theatre Perks card. This week they will show classic operas on their giant movie screen and have specials for Faust ticketholders.
On Wednesday the 22nd and Friday the 24th, they will also have live lunch hour performances from Noon to 1pm.

The Majestic has a prix fixe pre-theatre menu available before each Broadway show. With the use of the Orpheum Perks Card, subscribers receive a 10% discount on any show night. This place is highly recommended and is always busy on the night of Theatre events. Be sure to call ahead for reservations, or visit to get a table.
For more on the Perks card, click Perks

Monday, April 20, 2009

Reduce, Recycle, Reuse

The Orpheum has gone green, and it's not just in anticipation of Wicked coming in June.
Wednesday, April 22 is Earth Day.
While specific ideas and party platforms on environmental policy may differ, there are many small steps that individuals can take to help preserve nature's wonders for future generations. Caring about the environment is no longer the domain of hippies, the young, or "progressives". Red or blue, it's for you.

Here are a few easy things:
-Recycling; paper, aluminum, plastic, glass, tin
-Turning off lights when leaving room
-Unplugging appliances that draw phantom power
-Water-efficient showerheads
-Fluorescent lightbulbs
-Reusable shopping bags
None of these things will make your life any harder, but they do lessen your share of the ecological footprint left by the Earth's 6 billion people

You might say, "What can a Theatre do to help the environment?"
Well, lots really!

Our humble Orpheum recycling center

In the past eight months, The Orpheum's staff of roughly 25 people has recycled 2,145 lbs of paper. In the past 6 months, approximately 39 pounds of aluminum cans (1,170 cans have been saved from landfills).
Impact on the environment of the over one ton of recycled paper?

18 trees
7,500 gallons of water
505 gallons of oil
645 pounds of air pollution
3.5 cubic yards of landfill space
4,477 Kilowatt hours of energy

The aluminum cans have been donated to the Humane Society. Approximately 78 pounds of food have been generated for the animals through their aluminum can collection program.

Last year, the Theatre had energy efficient windows installed over its original windows in order to help conserve energy. In addition, the Orpheum has installed fluoresent spiral lightbulbs in its administrative offices to cut its energy expenditures

Friday, April 17, 2009

Busy Day on The Corner

Wicked tickets went on sale this morning, and there was a tremendous turnout at the Orpheum Box Office and Daivs-Kidd booksellers. Hundreds of folks gathered at Main and Beale, and an even bigger group showed up at DK. The line wrapped around the building downtown, with one hardcore fan opting for a an arrival in the wee hours of the morning. That's right. 2:30 am in Downtown Memphis. It's the safest precinct in the city, but still... that's the kind of dedication this show has spawned. The show sold over a quarter of a million dollars in the first hour of online sale.

I miss the ticket camp out concept. I never got to do it, as the Internet became the primary means for ticket buying before I exited those painful pre-pubescent years. Camping out was not an option in those days, nor did I appreciate hearing live music at that age. I remember when Zack, Albert Clifford (AC) Slater, and Screech camped out at the mall for those U2 tickets. Zack's intent was to scalp those tickets. -- more on scalpers, their deceptive practices, and how to avoid getting ripped off in a future post---- Good thing Screech screwed it up. Oh, Screech.

I'd camp out to see most U.S. Presidents speak, Led Zeppelin, Cream, or to see Memphis play in the Final Four. That's about it. Maybe for Wicked after I see it this summer. If you didn't get tickets today, look into it -- could end up being one of your favorites...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Free Trolley Rides

Today through Sunday 4/19,
Mata is offering free trolley rides in celebration of the 16th anniversary of the new trolley system in Memphis.

So, if you live/work downtown, hop on the trolley tomorrow morning and come to the Orpheum --- Wicked tickets will be on sale and Q 107.5 will be here with prizes. There will even be a mini-breakfast--- green doughnuts and coffee while you wait in line.


If you're coming to see the Ballet Memphis production of Cinderella this weekend, check out some of the great downtown restaurants and take the trolley to the theatre. Might be a particularly good idea on Saturday--- 80% chance of precipitation.

Tomorrow is THE Day

Wicked Tickets go on-sale tomorrow the 17th at 8am. This is kind of a big deal! The buzz around this show is incredible, and these tickets will move quickly.
Some, including the New York Times have called Wicked the biggest blockbuster in Broadway history. If you look at the current grosses from Broadway, the two national tours, and the sit-down engagement in San Francisco, it's hard to dispute that supposition. In five years, they've made over 1.35 billion dollars. Over 17 million people have seen the show worldwide and both numbers only continue to grow.

This show transcends what you typically think of in a musical and appeals to a broad group of people. It has become a cultural phenomenon, and Memphis has not witnessed this level of excitement and anticipaction about the Arts since The Phantom of the Opera debuted at the Orpheum in November 1997.

Don't miss out... it's here June 24-July 12

Check out this video...

What do you remember most about your first trip to the Orpheum?

I think I was about 10 years old the first time I came to the Orpheum. I was blown away by the size and the opulence, which are on par with any other theatre of the era in the United States.


Look for...

The usual
Show Announcements
Press Releases
Special Ticket Deals

but also check in for...
real audience video reviews
actor interviews
interesting stuff we do
a look at the theatre business
downtown buzz from our Corner
community involvement you had no idea we did
other Arts happenings you might enjoy