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Sunrise at the Orpheum

On February 9, 2020, the Valley of the Sun Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society presents "Sunrise" on "Silent Sunday" at the Orpheum Theatre. "Sunrise" is directed by well-known German director F.W. Murnau and was released by Fox Pictures towards the end of the silent era in 1927. Born Friedrich Wilhelm Plumpe, Murnau is best known for his 1922 film "Nosferatu" which is generally credited with being the first vampire movie.

Murnau came to America in 1926. "Sunrise" was his first American picture. The film stars George O'Brien and Janet Gaynor. The plot has been described as "the country mouse vs. the city mouse" in that the O'Brien character is torn between his wife (who he loves) and his fascination with a femme fatale he meets one day. The film is also unusual because despite being a "silent" film it has a score and sound effects (car horns, trolley bells). There is also a completely silent version.

"Sunrise" was a success both financially and critically. It won three Academy Awards - Best Actress (Janet Gaynor), Best Cinematography (Karl Struss), and "Best Picture-Unique and Artistic Production" (the only time this award was given). Murnau made three more films, including the semi-documentary "Tabu" in 1931. While these other films were successful, none approached the success of "Sunrise".

Murnau died in 1931, aged 42, due to injuries received in an automobile accident. Janet Gaynor made another picture with Murnau and received an Oscar nomination in 1938 for "A Star is Born". She retired from film making in 1939. George O'Brien went on to make a number of films, many of them B-westerns for RKO.

Doors open at the Orpheum Theatre at 2:00 and the show begins at 2:30. Once again, Brett Valliant will provide the excellent accompaniment to the film. Get tickets at

Archives Receives an Important Gift

Throughout the 1930's, then again in the late 1940's and early 1950's, the Gene Bumph Dance Academy would perform dance recitals at the Orpheum. The young dancers, usually aged about 7 to 18, would perform for two or three evenings, in addition to the movie. These fully costumed performances, lasting about 45 minutes, were usually well attended.

Recently, our Archives received a gift of a number of these costumes. They were donated by the family of Donna Lou Zieser. They were worn by Ms. Zieser when she appeared at the Theatre in the late 40's and early 50's. We hope to display some of them in the Lobby in the future.

Another Successful Season of Ghost Tours

Ever since its inception a few years ago, the Orpheum Ghost Tours have become our most popular event. This past October we had five nights of tours, drawing over 500 people to the Theatre. For some of the participants this was the second, or third time they've taken the tour. All of the tours were led by Board Members Joe Atredies and Laura Stenzel.

Thanks go out to those ushers who volunteered to help out. Special thanks to Board Member (and "Wrangler") Linda Hamm, and also to former Board Member (and "Official Greeter") Sandy Obelsky.

Congratulations to Our Raffle Winners

Diane Husband was the winner of two tickets to "Bandstand" and Angela Boozer was the winner of two tickets to "Finding Neverland". Thanks to Angela for the wonderful photo! We hope all our winners enjoyed the show!

Support the Friends

Attention Fry’s Shoppers – You can 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 $600 from Fry’s.

Attention Shoppers - Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know. Same products, same prices, same service. Support your charitable organization by starting your shopping at

Board of Directors

David Stevenson, Joe Atredies, Linda Hamm, Laura Stenzel, Anne-Marie Sittenfeld, Raymond Combe

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