When I joined FOTOT in 1994, I accepted the task of compiling a chronological history of the Orpheum, from the opening in 1929 to the 1970’s. During my research, I was always looking to find someone who worked in, or even attended, the Theatre at any point in its history, without much success until now.
A few months ago, I received an email from Susan Sain, saying that she had memorabilia (playbills) from the Palace West that she wanted to donate to the Friends. She also wanted to talk about her experience at the Theatre. So I paid her a visit.
A lifelong Phoenician, Sain was just a teenager when, through a stroke of luck, she got a job as an usher at the Palace-West Theatre. Although it was an unpaid position, she was overjoyed at the opportunity to see live theater. She worked at the Palace-West off and on from 1968 to 1973.
Sain talked about some of the shows she saw: the sold-out performances of “Applause” (2/29 -3/5/72), due largely to the fame of the show’s star, Lauren Bacall; the almost empty theater during the run of “The Trial of A. Lincoln” (3/29-4/3/71), staring Henry Fonda and Billy Dee Williams, emptier yet when many in the audience left during the performance because of the play’s “language”; and the controversy surrounding “Hair” (5/16-5/21/72), when the theater was bombarded with letters from local clergy and other “concerned” citizens demanding that the play be cancelled because of the subject matter and nudity. Nonetheless, the performances were well attended. (There are copies of many of those letters in our archives.) She was also present, as a patron, when Carol Channing reopened the Orpheum in January 1997 in “Hello Dolly.”
FOTOT Welcomes David Cruse
Phoenix Convention Center has a new Venue Manager for the Orpheum and Symphony Hall. David Cruse comes to Phoenix from New York City, where he had an extensive resume in theater management, and in creating and managing performing arts groups. Even though he only officially assumed his duties on October 31, he is already working on strategies for developing new audiences for the Orpheum.
Downstairs @ the Orpheum is Back!
The new season began on November 1with a performance by “We Three” (Nicole Pesce-Piano, Suzanne Lansford-Violin, Renee Patrick-Voice), performing songs made famous by the Ink Spots. Over 60 people attended, and a good time was had by all. The next show is scheduled for January 10, where FOTOT will present a night of Latin Jazz.
What's Coming up at the Orpheum
November 22 - Free Public Tours Noon 1:00
November 25 - Theatre League Presents Xmas Wonderland 8:00
November 26 - Theatre League Presents Xmas Wonderland 2:00 8:00
November 27 - Theatre League Presents Xmas Wonderland 1:00 6:30
November 30 - Warren Miller’s Here, There & Everywhere 7:30
December 3 - Dance Motion: Happy Holidays, With Love 2:00 7:00
December 4 - Dance Motion: Happy Holidays, With Love 2:00
December 6 - Free Public Tours Noon 1:00
December 9 - Phoenix Ballet: The Nutcracker 7:00
December 10 - Phoenix Ballet: The Nutcracker 2:00 7:00
December 11 - Phoenix Ballet: The Nutcracker Noon 4:00
December 20 - Free Public Tours Noon 1:00
December 22 - Phoenix Ballet: The Nutcracker 7:00
December 23 - Phoenix Ballet: The Nutcracker 2:00 7:00
December 24 - Phoenix Ballet: The Nutcracker Noon
December 30 - Free Public Tours Noon 1:00
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 www.FrysCommunityRewards.com 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.
Support the Friends, Become a “Star” – A unique way to support FOTOT. For $100 you can purchase a brick which will be placed in the “Avenue of Stars” located just east of the Theatre in the City Hall Plaza. You can purchase a brick to honor your family, a friend, someone you admire, or to celebrate an event (graduation, birthday, etc.). For more information, visit our website.
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.
Visit the Theatre
Did You Know – The light rail has two stops that are less than a 10 minute walk from the Orpheum. Whether you’re coming from the East Valley or from Northwest Phoenix, taking the train allows you to avoid traffic as well as the cost of parking your car.
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.