Saturday, May 30, 2009

WICKED tickets are still on sale.

The show is not sold out. Yes, there are still WICKED tickets available! I think people assumed they sold out in minutes. The show is here from June 24-July 12 for a total of 24 performances.
There are still seats available for every performance of WICKED. Here are the show dates that have the best seats available:

Thursday, June 25 (Matinee)
Wednesday, July 1
Friday, July 3
Saturday, July 4 (Matinee)
Saturday, July 4 (Evening)
Sunday, July 5 (Matinee)
Sunday, July 5 (Evening)
Tuesday, July 7
Wednesday, July 8
Sunday, July 12 (Evening)

Visit or call the box office at (901)525-3000 to get your tickets today.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Celebs at the Orpheum

Our own Orpheum RSVP edition:

Pat Neely, Liza Coombs, Laurie Holt, and Gina Neely @ India.Arie Concert 5/24/09

The Orpheum's own Rapheal Hamilton, and Justin Timberlake, oh wait, I mean Robin Thicke

You never know who's going to show up at the office. Patron and Partner Services Manager Kate Hackett, and former Notre Dame basketball coach and current ESPN analyst Digger Phelps. It's like we work in Bristol,CT! Digger is fan of opera and the performing arts. He planned to star in "Love Letters" with the Orpheum as a producer until his basketball obligations limited the project.

Box Office Manager Glenda Young and Chris Tucker. Chris was in town to see Maxwell at The Orpheum.

Raph, again! Backstage with Academy award winner Jennifer Hudson after the show on 5/11.

W.W. Herenton was seen at the Hudson/Thicke show, but we have no photographic evidence.

Also, randomly, former NBA all-star and current LA Clippers guard Baron Davis was on the guest list for the North Mississippi All-Stars show on New Year's Eve 2008, but never showed.

Swiss Family Robinson, ARTreach, Disney Trivia, Bounce n Fun Event Rentals, '10 movie suggestions

Last night, The Orpheum Summer Movie Series featured the Disney classic Swiss Family Robinson. There was a great turnout for this special family movie night. The price was right- a $1 donation to the Theatre's ARTreach program. ARTreach is a new initiative that supports the Theatre's 17 education programs that impact thousands of Mid-South families.
There were lots of families with little ones who were probably seeing this tale of adventure for the first time. I snapped a photo of a family of four-- with an itty bitty little guy-- who donned straw hats for the occassion. I only had my phone so it unfortunately turned out too dark.
Surprisingly, there were many young 20 something couples at this movie. It's always fun reliving something you loved in your childhood, and I'm sure they enjoyed the nostalgia. I remember seeing it when I was in single digits and, of course, adamantly requesting an elaborate tree house afterward.

Before the show started, there was a Disney family trivia contest on stage. Brave Disney enthusiasts put their name in a hat and three lucky participants were selected from stage. Holli Kenney, The Orpheum's Director Of Development, played host for the contest.
Team 1 buzzing in with the correct answer to the question, "What Disney movie featured the villain Ursula?"

Team 1 had the most correct answers and won a 16ft inflatable water slide from Bounce n Fun Event rentals. But, at The Orpheum, everyone is a winner!
Second place earned a commemorative mug and four summer movies passes. Third place received four summer movie passes.

What should be next year's $1 Family Movie Night???

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Arts patron Mrs. Levitt tours the Orpheum (Think Levitt Shell, Free Music)

New York philanthropist Mrs. Mimi Levitt visited The Orpheum Theatre on Wednesday. She and late husband Mortimer established the Mortimer Levitt Foundation in 1966 to provide assistance to performing arts venues that build communities and support diversity. Mrs. Levitt funded the 2007 renovation effort of the Overton Park Shell that preceded its re-opening in fall of last year as the Levitt Shell at Overton Park. Her contributions to the Levitt Shell amount to over 1 million dollars over the past five years. She is not only a noted Arts benefactress, but also an avid fan of opera and historic preservation, which led her to The Orpheum, the first building in Memphis to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Orpheum Building Manager Richard Reniach led Mrs. Levitt on a tour of the South's Finest Theatre. Representatives from Opera Memphis,the Levitt Shell, and the New Ballet Ensemble were present as the Viennese octogenarian learned about the 1928 construction, the 1984 and 1998 renovations, the Wurlitzer organ, the near flawless theatre acoustics, and, of course, Mary the Ghost.
Mrs. Levitt was impressed with the restoration, particularly the detailed gold leaf. Reinach said the cost of painting the interior during the 1998 renovation was over $500,000! It won't be too much longer until the work needs to be redone. There is only one company that the few remaining historic theatres in the U.S. trust for this kind of work, and they're located in New Berlin, Wisconsin, of all places.

There are currently five Levitt Pavillions across the United States - Los Angeles, Pasadena,CA; Arlington, TX; and the original Levitt in Westport,CT. They are all characterized by a grassy open-air setting, professional sound, musical diversity, and family friendliness. However, they all reflect the uniqueness of their community. Oh, and the concerts are all free!!!
Just as an aside-- When I first learned of the new name and was completely uninformed on the project, I remember thinking that attaching Levitt to The Shell was a bad idea. On a trip, I'd seen information on a concert that was at the Levitt Pavilion in LA. I made the assumption, wrongly, that Levitt was some sort of national corporate conglomerate that buys these venues across the country, sometimes renovates them, and makes a substantial profit under the guise of growing arts in the community. Corporations are always looking to attach their name to any arena, stadium, or other place people flock. Other than demolition, what could be worse for our Shell? The Shell that is an indelible part of Memphis history, where Elvis played one of his first concerts in 1954. (Some call it the first rock 'n roll concert ever.) The Shell that's located in the heart of Memphis's cultural hotbed. If I had one day to make someone truly feel what it is to be a Memphian, apart from our great tourist attrations, a concert in Overton Park at The Levitt Shell wouldn't be a bad place to start.
The truth about the rechristening as the Levitt Shell is the complete opposite. The Levitts have been dedicated to preserving these venues and ensuring that they remain a community treasure. When Mortimer Levitt sold his custom shirt clothing empire that catered to celebs and businessmen in 1997, all of the proceeds were transferred directly to the Arts Foundation he and his wife set up three decades earlier.
Most of these Shells and other outdoor pavilions built during the Great Depression are no longer standing. Our own Shell was scheduled to be razed in the early 1960s, 1972, and 1984, but was saved by citizen organization and effort.
In addition to increased exposure to the Arts for all Memphians, the re-opening of the Levitt Shell seems to have strengthened ties between what some might think would be competing arts groups. And for most everyone else, the 2008 opening has been a source of civic pride.

Thank you Mrs. Levitt!

FREE Music in Memphis at the Levitt Shell
Every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday
May 28 - Jun 28, 2009

Which shows are you most excited about seeing in the Orpheum's next Broadway season?

Priscilla, The King's Horse Stables, and Blue Hawaii

Priscilla Presley was in Memphis today to meet with the media about the opening of the stables at Graceland. She gave about a 30 minute guided tour of the facility, located behind the racquetball court in the southeast corner of the property. This is the first time the stables have been opened to the public. The exhibit features two horses, video of Elvis riding, and two saddles The King used. It will remain open for tourists through Labor Day. I believe it will return annually as a summer exhibit.

There were horses on the land when Elvis purchased Graceland in 1957. He cared for these horses and started to ride. After being thrown from a horse named Flaming Star, he took a hiatus from riding before rediscovering his love for equines. Elvis bought horses for his father, members of his entourage, and their wives. It didn't matter whether you knew how to ride or even liked horses, you were getting a horse, Priscilla said.
She noted that he loved to ride horses on the property as a way to unwind. His favorite thing was to ride close to the wall at the front of the property so that people could watch him.
The horses in the stable today are Bandit and Max. Bandit is smaller with one blue eye and enjoys following Max around. Both horses are in the process of learning to bow. Bandit and Max were both rescued.

The Orpheum has enjoyed partnering with Elvis Presley Enterprises through the years. Jack Soden, President of EPE, is a former member of the Orpheum's Board of Directors. The musical ALL SHOOK UP, an EPE investment that featured Elvis hits played The Orpheum in March of 2007 and provided an opportunity for two Memphis icons to work together for a joint promotion.
This year, the Orpheum's Summer Movie Series will show the Elvis classic Blue Hawaii at 6pm on August 9 as part of the Elvis Tribute Week Festivities. There's something cool about watching Elvis on the big screen in the Orpheum where he used to come see movies(when it was MALCO's flagship) as a relative unknown in the early 1950s.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


The Memphis auditions of the show SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, filmed in March at the Orpheum will air Wednesday on Fox at 7pm. Set your DVR accordingly! Maybe you'll see this guy..

An estimated 5,000 aspiring dance stars turned out for the first round of auditions at the Cadre Building. The next day a select few were invited back to perform for the show’s judges at the Orpheum for a chance to perform at a taping in Las Vegas. The Commercial Appeal reported that the show’s judges were disappointed with the talent level in Memphis. It will be interesting to see who made it through. On the day of the auditions, the producers shot about a half an hour of footage of an eclectic group showing their best moves across the street. A few of the girls demonstrated their flexibility on a passing horse carriage. I saw two guys dressed in swing dancing garb burst out of the Theatre, showing their “ticket” bibs to the camera, turning to run up Main Street and doing a heel click in unison. The show went to five other cities including Denver, Seattle, New York, Miami and Los Angeles.
Maybe there will be another local contestant to do our city proud !

P. Halloran on 98.1 THE MAX

Orpheum President Pat Halloran was on the Drake and Zeke radio program last Friday to discuss the upcoming Broadway season.
About the 7:28 mark, Zeke has an anecdote about his experience taking the kids to Scooby Doo at The Orpheum a few years ago. Hilarious...

Also, Tom Jones to the Orpheum? 8:05 mark

How do they pick casts for the touring shows? 4:45 mark

Pat also notes that Paulo Szot, the actor who plays Emile de Becque in South Pacific on Broadway will be part of the touring production that comes to the Orpheum March 23-28, 2010. Szot won the 2008 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for this role. He is also an internationally acclaimed Opera singer.

Visit the 98.1 Podcasts page and click on the (052209 809.mp3) file underneath May 22, 2009.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Biopic

Stephen Spielberg and Dreamworks have obtained the rights from King's estate for a film on the civil rights icon. It will be the first King movie to be authorized by the family. Filmmakers will be able to examine all of his papers, speeches, video, and personal belongings as they construct the life and legacy of Dr. King.

So much to cover in his short 39 years.

This will be the first dramatization of King's life. He did appear in the documentary King: A Filmed Record ... Montgomery to Memphis in 1970.

There is no clear date for when the movie will begin shooting. Although Dr. King is associated with Atlanta, his birthplace, I think one of the advance screenings for the completed work should be in Memphis at the Orpheum, just a few blocks north of the Civil Rights Museum. It really would be great for the city.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Oh golly gee, damn!

This Friday, the Orpheum Summer Movie Series starts with Breakfast at Tiffany's at 7:15pm.

There will be an Audrey Hepburn Look-a-like contest before the show. From Tim Gunn to Stacy and Clinton, everyone agrees that a litte black dress is something every woman should own. Those who wear this essential to the movie this Friday will have the chance to saunter across the stage in our Hepburn Look-a-like contest. Whoever best embodies Holly GoLightly's inconic style will win movie tickets. All ages can participate. The Theatre did this last year and it was a lot of fun for everyone.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

In Norway, it's Byggmester Bob

Editor's Note: Bob is going to be at The Orpheum June 5-7 in a new stage show Bob the Builder Live!

"Apparently, this guy does more than show kids how to operate heavy machinery. When the whistle blows and the project is finished, he expresses himself through music. His self-titled debut album had two singles go straight to number one on the UK and Australian charts. The first single "Can We Fix It" remains an anthem with the under 5 working class set. His remake of "Mambo #5" ensured that the album received radio airplay for more than a year. Industry insiders were impressed with the artistry, but could not convince him to tour in support of the record.
The long-awaited and much anticipated follow-up album dropped last year to critical acclaim. "It's a much edgier effort and really shows his growth as an artist," said Farmer Pickles. One need not look any further than the album's title, "Never Mind the Breeze Blocks", a clear reference to the Sex Pistols 1977 epic "Never Mind the Bollocks". Bob admits that he really relates to the Pistols music because of the way they address the role of the monarchy and the social class structure in a post WW II Britain.

Great NEWS--- BOB is on TOUR for the FIRST time. His rider includes only one thing: cheese and tomato sandwiches! I wanted to know more about this BOB. I caught up with the man on tour and we sat down for an exlcusive interview. I think some of his answers will surprise you..."

Q. What is your show about?
A. Well, my building team and I have a big job to build a wind farm and recycling center in Sunflower Valley. Things don’t go very smoothly, things go missing and Sunflower Valley gets covered in horrible trash! We all pull together and get things fixed.

Q. Who is joining you on tour?
A. Wendy will be there of course! Along with Scoop, Dizzy, Lofty and Scrambler from my brilliant machine team. Spud the scarecrow, Farmer Pickles and Mayor Bentley have also come along for the ride!

Q. What do you hope that your fans will take away from your show?
A. The team and I have such a great time working together and solving any problems that pop up, I just want everyone to know that The Fun Is In Getting It Done! With this new project, we are also learning that everyone can do something when it comes to reducing, reusing and recycling our everyday trash to help the environment. We’ll share the tools needed to care about the environment through recycling, teamwork, cooperation, and of course, a Can-Do attitude.

Q. How long have you and the Can-Do Crew been away from Sunflower Valley? What do you miss the most?
A. We’ve been away for quite a while. I miss all of our great friends there, but we’ve visited and met lots of great new friends, too.

Q. You and the Can-Do Crew have worked on many different types of building projects. What is your favorite thing to build?
A: Wow, that’s a hard question. I love all types of building – from putting up a house to fixing a garden wall. No job is too big or too small. We fix it all.

Q: Who is your favorite member of the Can-Do Crew?
A. I can’t possibly choose! All my machines are my favorites because they are all great at different things. I need each and every one of them!

Q. Why do you always use the sentence, “Can we fix it? Yes, we can!”?
A. Because it’s true! With teamwork and a positive attitude, everything is possible.

Q. Why did you choose to be a builder?
A. I always knew I was going to be a builder. My dad was a builder too and he taught me everything I know. I couldn’t imagine being anything else.

Q: After a long day at work, how do you like to unwind and relax?
A: Well after a hard day of building and digging, I like to make a nice cup of tea and listen to the radio!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Oh, What a Season!

3 Classic Broadway Shows
1 Timeless movie musical adapatation
1 Imaginative, acrobatic extravaganza
1 New Classic and Broadway's Biggest Success Story

A Chorus Line, September 22 – 27, 2009
Cirque Dreams: Holidaze, November 17 – 22, 2009
The Wizard of Oz, December 15 – 20, 2009
Jersey Boys, January 27 – February 14, 2010
South Pacific, March 23 – March 28, 2010
Chicago, June 25 – 27, 2010 (Season Option)

The prices start at $99.50 to see all five of these shows.

The Announcement Party was a great success. FOX 13 WHBQ streamed the entire event live on their website, and News Channel 3 WREG shot footage of the event to use on Daybreak this morning.

Those who came enjoyed complimentary wine and cheese, soft drinks and popcorn. They received a goody bag with t-shirt, mug, restaurant coupons to The Majestic, Automatic Slim's, Encore, Orleans on Front and Spindini as well as a new season mousepad.

The live performances were excellent. The E Studio singers performed selections from each show:

"What I Did for Love" from A Chorus Line
"All that Jazz" from Chicago
"Somewhere Over the Rainbow"
"I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair" from South Pacific
"Can't Take My Eyes Off You" and "Walk Like A Man" from Jersey Boys, made famous by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

More event photos:

The lobby quickly filled up with those eager to hear the new lineup.

Guests sampled six different wines.

Raphael helping subscribers renew for the '09-'10 season.

Some cheese with your wine?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Free Wine sampling, iPod Touch giveaway, live music and Six Fabulous Shows!

The Orpheum Theatre will hold its Broadway season Announcement Party on Tuesday, May 12, 2009. The doors open at 5:45pm with complimentary soft drinks and popcorn in the lobby. Free wine samples will be offered along with cocktails at special happy hour prices. The evening’s program includes a season video preview and live performances of songs from each show. The event concludes at 7pm, at which time patrons can subscribe or renew in the lobby, and then enjoy the special offers extended to attendees by our restaurant partners.

All those who attend will receive generous downtown restaurant coupons, a new season mouse pad, and a Summer Movie Series ticket, a $6 value. One new iPod touch, additional movie passes, and Orpheum gear will be given away from the stage during the event.
Current subscribers who renew their subscription that night will be entered in a drawing for a chance to win a trip to New York City or a Gourmet Dining package featuring $50 gift certificates to Encore, The Majestic Grille, Circa, Orleans on Front, Spindini, Automatic Slim’s, and the Inn at Hunt Phelan.

Audience reviews of Fiddler

Meant to get this up earlier, but here is what some audience members thought of Topol and Fiddler on the Roof during Wednesday evening's performance.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The review is in...Topol keeps his 'Fiddler' legacy nuanced, fresh

Here's what arts writer Christopher Blank had to say:

"His deep, resonant voice hasn't changed, nor has the weary physicality of his belabored milkman. His Tevye has the slightest limp in his walk and a heaviness of spirit that carries the weight of the world. It was true when he first played Tevye in his 30s, and it's the same today.

Traditionalists will think they have died and gone to heaven with this tour. And for those just seeing the show for the first time, this might be the production that sets the bar."

Read the full review here

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Topol on television

Topol sat down with Marybeth and Alex from News Channel 3 Live at 9 yesterday to talk about playing the role of Tevye for five decades. He spoke about what it was like to perform Fiddler with his own daughter as Chava, and also described the Jordan River Village, a camp for children with life-threatening diseases he founded in the Lower Galilee.

Check it out here...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Orpheum welcomes elementary students

April 28 marked the second bi-annual Memphis City Schools Exhibition of Student Work. At schools across the city, students exhibited projects that represented months of preparation and hard work.

At Fox Meadows Elementary, Mrs. Daphne Crenshaw’s first graders decided to make their project all about The Orpheum Theatre. They read and learned about the theatre and, during their spring break, five student representatives came to visit the theatre in person to learn more about the people who work here and the jobs that we do.

Each student came prepared to interview a staff member with a list of questions that would help them learn more about our jobs. They interviewed our Graphic Design Coordinator, Vice President of Administration, Technical Director, Group Sales Manager, and Director of Box Office Operations and they got to see firsthand how many different jobs go into running a theatre.

After their interviews, the students got to go on a tour of the theatre. Everyone was very impressed to see how the crew is able to set up entire sets and lighting designs in just hours. Our sound technician entertained everyone with a story about Mary, The Orpheum’s good ghost, and the students finished their tour with a look inside the box office.

For their Exhibition project, Mrs. Crenshaw’s students re-created The Orpheum outside of their classroom, making a replica of the Orpheum sign and marquee as well as the stars on our “walk of fame”. They learned a lot about the history of the building and the thousands of performers that have graced the stage, and they look forward to visiting the theatre again and again!

----Shelby Patterson
Manager of Education and Community Programs, The Orpheum Theatre

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

2009 ARTReach Online Auction

Check out The Orpheum's online auction. Donate or Bid today and put EDUCATION Center Stage!!


You can peruse the boards and register to bid if you see something you like. Most of the opening bids are $5, and there are no reserves on any of the items. This is an opportunity to get some great deals.
Original artwork, hotel stays, concert and show ticket packages, and a lot of great Broadway memorabilia are ready to go to the highest bidder.

The auction benefits the Theatre's ARTreach campaign. This fundaraising drive supports the Education and Community Programs Department at The Orpheum. There are 17 Education programs coordinated by the Theatre, and they impact over 40,000 students and families annually.
More on the involvement of our Education Department with local schools to come tomorrow...

Opening Night

Two semis have backed up to the loading dock and dozens of stagehands are busy assembling the sets, adjusting the lights, and checking the sound. Cases of wine, beer, and water are being delivered. Boxes of show programs are placed before each entrance to the auditorium. Vacuums are humming and window glass is squeaking. Members of Fiddler's merchandise crew assemble the stand where they will hawk t-shirts, hats, and other commemorative memorabilia. The box office phones are ringing incessantly with those looking to scoop up last minute tickets for the engagement. It's opening night, and the Theatre is almost ready.
One last change- the company manager for Troika, the touring group, insists that the Orpheum is contractually obligated to add "Topol in" to the "Fiddler on the Roof" currently on the electronic marquee. A few clicks of the mouse and that problem is solved.

Later on after everything on stage is set, the musicians go down in the orchestra pit and sound check. All of the stagehands and a few of the musicians are locals.

In the late afternoon, the principal actors may do a short run through of a few scenes, or understudies may receive additional rehearsal time.

After five, the Friends of the Orpheum ushers will arrive and get in position to greet patrons and escort them to their seats. The bartenders will enter the Theatre and make sure they are well stocked for the evening. Tonight, Donna, Chief of Staff and Vice President of Administration will man the concierge desk across from the Fiddler merch to answer any questions patrons may have. At 6:30, the doors open and patrons flood the lobby. An hour later, they will be transported to Anatevka circa 1905.

Monday, May 4, 2009

L'Chaim, Topol!

L'Chaim means "To Life!". Fiddler on the Roof starring Chaim Topol as Tevye starts tomorrow, May 5 . This is the first time Fiddler has been to Memphis in over 8 years. Theodore Bikel played Tevye in a production that ran the second week of January 2001. This week-long engagement marks only the fifth time a touring Broadway cast has performed Fiddler in the Mid-South.

In a farewell performance, Topol, 73, will make his Memphis theatre debut. Read more about Topol in arts writer Christopher Blank's preview article, "New Stroke on 'Fiddler'" from the May 1 Commercial Appeal.

Also, don't miss Topol interview's with Marybeth Conley and Alex Coleman on News Channel 3's Live at 9 on Thursday, May 7.

Looking for a preview of Topol at the Orpheum this week, check out the opening sequence of the 1971 film featuring the Israeli star and the emsemble singing "Tradition".

Friday, May 1, 2009

Calling All Talented, Young Mid-South Musicians

(2008 contestants with American Idol alums Kimberly Locke and Justin Guarini)

2009 Orpheum Star Search audition dates have been set.

July 17, 2009
STAX Academy, 926 East McLemore
5:30pm- 8pm

July 24, 2009
Orpheum Theatre, 203 S Main St.

August 8, 2009
Buckman Performing Arts Center, 60 Perkins Extd.

To register, call (901) 529-4204, or email
Performers must be between the ages of 15-19 on the date of their audition. Star Search showcases only solo vocal and instrumental performers. For a complete list of rules, visit The Orpheum website

Up to six contestants will be selected from each audition to compete at the 2009 Orpheum Star Search on October 17. The finalists will perform with live band accompaniment on the Orpheum stage in front of family, friends, fans, and Memphis music insiders. They will vie for over $15,000 in prizes and a chance to perform on the Orpheum stage in the coming year. A panel of judges will evaluate the artists and select three winners.