Get To Know…The Orpheum Theatre
You’ve probably seen THE BOOK OF MORMON, WICKED and THE LION KING in the Orpheum Theatre, but do you know much about its history?
- The Orpheum Theatre was originally called the Pantages, after impresario Alexander Pantages. If you look closely at the wall carvings above the balcony exits and the metal railings on the upper levels, you will see the initials “AP.”
- Alexander Pantages built a rooftop penthouse into the theatre for himself. The penthouse now houses BroadwaySF Audience Services ticketing and call center.
- Architect B. Marcus Priteca, who designed hundreds of theatres, patterned the Orpheum after cathedrals and palaces in pre-Reformation Spain. Figures from folklore and mythology appear on the upper walls of the auditorium. The ceiling, with an enormous sunburst in the middle, spreads like the lit wings of a butterfly over the house.
- From the ’50s until 1968, the Orpheum was a movie house called the Cinerama.
- There are more than 130 carved lions that ring the auditorium ceiling. The front of each lion is visible to audiences, but only house electrical staff has the luxury of seeing their hindquarters (when re-lamping the ceiling).