This Week in History
“The Grand Old Lady of Granville Street”
For the week of Monday March 15, 2010
The Orpheum only continued to show vaudeville acts and short films for another four years after it opened. Then it changed the focus to short films as a result of the increasing popularity of feature-length films and financial pressures during the Depression years. When it struggled to remain open during the 1930s, the theatre reduced prices and began showing double features to keep guests coming; however, the Orpheum briefly shut its doors in 1931.
After a public outcry over the possible demolition of the Orpheum in 1973, the City of Vancouver purchased the theatre with the help of private and government donations, grants, lotteries and widespread fundraising. In order to accommodate the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the stage was extended, an orchestra shell was added, and several rehearsal rooms and lounges were built backstage. The original decorator, Tony Heinsbergen, was recruited to paint a stunning mural on the theatre’s domed ceiling.
The Orpheum Theatre was designated a National Historic Site in 1979. It stands as an example of the ornate 1920s movie palace. The Orpheum is home to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver Bach Choir, the Vancouver Chamber Choir, the Vancouver Cantata Singers, the Vancouver Recital Society and the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame.
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