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Things That Go Bump in the Night

Certain old buildings, particularly hotels and theaters, are often alleged to contain ghosts or certain unexplained occurrences or phenomena. In Arizona, hotels in Prescott, Bisbee, and Phoenix have provided the background for numerous newspaper articles on the “unexplainable.”

Joe Atredies, a member of the Friends, created an organization a few years ago called Phoenix Ghost Tours. He leads walking tours of Downtown Phoenix, pointing out various locations that are, or were, supposed to be haunted. He had heard stories about a ghost that supposedly inhabited the Orpheum, but he had never been in the Theatre. About 18 months ago, he took an Orpheum tour. The effect on him was overwhelming; besides becoming a member of the Friends, Atredies came up with the idea of holding ghost tours in the Theatre.

There have been reports over the years about strange “events” in the Theatre: the meowing of a cat, doors slamming for no reason, and a woman (Maddy, or Maddie) who is a long-time “resident.” The idea was to weave these into a history of the Theatre, and combine it with a tour featuring stops at certain spots where “events” were thought to have occurred.

With the cooperation and support of the City, arrangements were made to have the tours take place on the last four days of October. There were five tours (each with a maximum of 20 participants) each night, beginning at 6pm, with the last tour at 9pm. Publicity was provided via radio (KJZZ and KTAR) and TV (PHXTV (channel 11) and FOX (channel 10).

The response was remarkable; attendance for the four days was over 90% of capacity. The response to the tour ranged from “amazing” to “very interesting” and “enjoyable.” However, the response to the Theatre itself included “gorgeous”, “stunning” and “I’m coming back for a regular tour or a performance”. With such rave reviews, Atredies believes that the tours could become an annual event.


What's Coming Up at the Orpheum - Now & Then


November 4 - Live Nation Presents Chris Cornell 7:30

November 6 - Phoenix Symphony “Music of Star Wars” 7:30

November 10 - Free Public Tours Noon & 1:00

November 14 - Chris Hardwick 8:00

November 20 - Isabel Allende Book Signing 7:00

November 24 - Free Public Tours Noon & 1:00

November 27 - Cirque Holidaze 7:30

November 28 - Cirque Holidaze 2:00 &7:30

December 5 - Dance Motion: Seasons of the City 2:00 & 7:00

December 6 - Dance Motion: Seasons of the City 2:00

December 8 - Free Public Tours Noon & 1:00

December 11 - Theater League presents “Rat Pack Christmas” 8:00

December 12 - Theater League presents “Rat Pack Christmas” 2:00 & 8:00

December 13 - Theater League presents “Rat Pack Christmas” 2:00 & 7:00

December 18 - Phoenix Ballet: Nutcracker 2015 7:00

December 19 - Phoenix Ballet: Nutcracker 2015 2:00 & 7:00

December 20 - Phoenix Ballet: Nutcracker 2015 11:00 & 3:00

December 22 - Free Public Tours Noon & 1:00

December 31 - Free Public Tours Noon & 1:00


March 20, 1936

On a number of occasions during the 1930’s there would be live entertainment as well as a film at the Theatre. This date featured the appearance of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, at this point one of the best known colored entertainers in the country. A dancer as well as a singer, he performed five times during the day. Advertisements in the paper for his appearance noted that “the entire balcony [of the Orpheum] will be reserved for our colored patrons”.


Support the Friends

Attention Fry’s Shoppers – Donate to the Friends every time you shop at Fry’s, and it’s free. Fry’s is donating $2 million a year ($500,000/quarter) to Arizona non-profits. To participate, go to and register your Fry’s VIP card, and select Friends of the Orpheum Theatre as your non-profit of choice. Remember: your donation is free, and this program is separate from the gas program. Last year, the Friends received nearly $700 from Fry’s. Also: if you are already a member of the Program you have to re-register in August. Just go to the e-mail location shown above and follow the directions to re-enroll.

Give Kids a Boost – It’s often difficult for young children to see what’s happening on stage because they are “vertically challenged.” Now you can help the Friends solve this problem by purchasing a booster seat. The purchase price is $25, and each seat purchased will be labelled with the name of the purchaser. Visit our website, for more information.

Become a Member of the Friends – Join us as we preserve and illuminate the heritage of the glorious Orpheum Theatre. Visit our website to learn more.


Friends of the Orpheum Theatre

A 501c3 nonprofit whose Mission is:

To support the art, culture, and history of the Orpheum Theatre through outreach, education, and volunteerism.

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