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"Phantom" Comes to the Orpheum

On October 28th, the Valley of the Sun Chapter of the American Theater Organ Society will once again present "Silent Sundays". The feature will be "The Phantom of the Opera." The film, from Universal Pictures, stars Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin, and Norman Kerry. One of the classic films of the 1920's, it was Chaney's most famous film, and it provides the opportunity to see a great film as it was meant to be seen, in a historic theater, accompanied by the fabulous Wurlitzer Theater Organ.

The film is based on a 1910 novel by Gaston Leroux. Universal Pictures purchased the rights to the book specifically for their biggest star, Lon Chaney. Chaney, whose parents were deaf mutes, had worked in vaudeville, honing his skills in make-up and as a contortionist. He began his film career in 1915.

Universal assigned Rupert Julian to direct the film. A native of New Zealand, Julian (real name Thomas Hayes) had worked as both an actor and director. As an actor, he had worked together with Lon Chaney in a propaganda film, "The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin" (1918). Whatever camaraderie existed from that film vanished in the making of "Phantom." Chaney and Julian were continually at odds, finally reaching a point where they would not speak to each other. A member of the crew was selected to act as a go-between. The situation did not improve.

Eventually, Julian was taken off the film, and replaced by the combination of Edward Sedgwick and Chaney. Universal had reason for concern about the film. It was their costliest film to date, and was taking far too long to complete. They had already spent a lot of money; as an example they had built a life-size replica of parts of the Paris Opera House. Parts of the existing film were shelved and new scenes were shot by the new directing team.

The initial preview showing in January 1925 was a disaster. A second preview about 3 months later was not much better. The studio seriously considered shelving the film, but a third showing, using some new scenes and some that had previously been discarded, did much better. So that version of the film opened nationally on November 11, 1925, and the rest is history.

The resulting reviews were almost universally positive. Variety said that the film was "The greatest inducement to nightmare that has yet been screened." There were stories (perhaps apocryphal) that some patrons would run screaming from the theater, while others would faint, when the "unveiling" scene was shown.

The story has been filmed a number of times since 1925, most notably by Universal in 1943 with Nelson Eddy, Susanna Foster and Claude Rains (as the Phantom), but none of the remakes can hold a candle to the original. Most people are familiar with the story because of the Broadway musical that opened in 1988.


Silent Sunday: The Phantom of the Opera

Sunday, October 28, 2018 - 2:30p

Orpheum Theater

$20 per person

Get your tickets at



Send in the Clouds - During our public tours we mention the Orpheum is an "atmospheric" theater and talk about the "show before the Show". Approximately 30 minutes prior to a performance on stage, there is another show on the ceiling: sunlight, followed by clouds and stars, all supplied by equipment located on each side of the lower level.

Unfortunately, for a long time the performance took place under a clear blue sky, since the "cloud machine" had ceased to function. Each year, FOTOT works with the City to provide an item for the Orpheum for which the City has no budget. Thanks to your generous donations FOTOT was able to purchase the necessary equipment earlier this year. The theatre's tech staff installed the equipment (a Gamonline GAMFSX4 for those that are interested) and, after some minor adjustments, the clouds are once again part of the "Show".


What’s Coming Up at the Orpheum

Sep 27 Ballet Arizona: New Moves 7:00p

Sep 28 Ballet Arizona: New Moves 7:30p

Sep 29 Ballet Arizona: New Moves 2:00p, 7:30p

Sep 30 Ballet Arizona: New Moves 1:00p

Oct 2 Free Public Tours 12:00p, 1:00p

Oct 7 Benise "Fuego!": Spirit of Spain 2:00p

Oct 2 Ru Paul's Drag Race Werq The World 9:00p

Oct 13 The Simon & Garfunkel Story 8:00p

Oct 16 Free Public Tours 12:00p, 1:00p

Oct 16 The Nicole Pesci Trio - Downstairs at the Orpheum 6:30p

Oct 19 Orpheum Ghost Tours: Flashlight Edition 6:00p, 7:00p, 8:00p, 9:00p

Oct 24 Things You Should Know 8:00p

Oct 26 All Things Comedy Festival 7:30p

Oct 27 All Things Comedy Festival 7:00p, 9:30p

Oct 28 The Phantom of the Opera: Silent Sunday 2:30p

Oct 28 Orpheum Ghost Tours: Flashlight Edition 6:00p, 7:00p, 8:00p, 9:00p

Oct 31 Orpheum Ghost Tours: Flashlight Edition 6:00p, 7:00p, 8:00p, 9:00p


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.

Attention Amazon Shoppers - Now you can donate to the Friends when you order from Amazon! AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon that lets customers enjoy the same wide selection of products, low prices, and convenient shopping features as on The difference is that when customers shop on AmazonSmile (, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charitable organizations selected by customers. Click , sign in, and shop! It’s that easy!

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 at 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 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose Mission is:

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

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