The Orpheum Theatre is filled with history

By Alex Estrada


It’s a Saturday evening. Downtown San Francisco day life has already died down. The night life is starting to sprawl. On the Corner of Market and 8th street, the words ORPHEUM light up. Theatre goes are huddled under by the box office of a popular performing arts center. It’s almost opening time. The Orpheum Theatre gets packed with hundreds of people waiting to see one of their favorite musicals or plays.

When stepping into the Orpheum Theatre on Market Street in San Francisco, CA, people aren’t just stepping into another performing arts theatre. The Orpheum Theatre is filled with history.

Theatre entrepreneur Alexander Pantages used the Orpheum Theatre as a vaudeville and early motion picture venue during his days in San Francisco. For several years, the San Francisco Civic Light Opera claimed the Orpheum Theatre as their home, before the Best of Broadway, presented by SHN, took over. Conan O’Brian used the Orpheum Theatre to film a few episodes of Late Night with Conan O’Brian in San Francisco in 2007.

 The Orpheum Theatre was built in 1926 and has a Spanish cathedral look throughout is wide hallways. Statues of mythical Spanish folklore surround and ornate the walls of the aisles. Lion figures surround the ceiling, watching down upon the audience and stage. A standard red curtain covers hides the stages secrets. A mural of Spanish soldiers and villagers illuminated by a huge gold Sun.

 “ORPHEUM” falls down the center of building above the box office and entrance of the theatre. Inside the auditorium of the Orpheum, look up from your seat and you will see stars twinkling in the sky, even during the brightest days before matinee showings.

In 1998, The Orpheum Theatre went under some renovations, and has since been claimed by the City of San Francisco as an historical landmark. The multi-million dollar renovation equipped the Orpheum Theatre with stage space for larger production companies. The Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco shows many contemporary favorites such as Wicked and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. It continues to be a popular place in San Francisco.  

The Orpheum Theatre is only minutes away by foot from other performing arts centers in San Francisco, including the San Francisco Opera House, and the Civic Center.
A local subway station and several bus lines are seconds away from the entrance to the Orphuem Theatre, making the Orpheum easily accessible by public transportation.

 The Orpheum Theatre is owned by Broadway entrepreneurs Carole Shorenstein Hays, a Tony winning Broadway producer, and James Nederlender, of the famous Broadway Nederlender family. Their company, SHN, owns San Francisco’s Orpheum, Curran and Golden Gate theatres.