July 27, 2012

Today at the Orpheum.

The State Street landmark has gone dark.
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One of 2 building permit signs in the window says: "Remove all components of Stage Door theater." The Stage Door theater is the claustrophobic place around in the back where I've seen quite a few movies over the years, not the original, ornate theater that rarely showed things I wanted to see (or that I wanted to see but couldn't see under better conditions). But somehow I can only remember one movie I ever saw at the Stage Door theater: "Sling Blade."

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The old marquee gives shade to the dobro-and-harmonica player. "Marquee" is a funny word. It originally meant "A tent large enough to hold many people (now usually one used for social or commercial functions)." The OED has that going back to 1690. The meaning we know — which is "chiefly U.S." — is "A canopy projecting over the main entrance to a building; spec. such a canopy at a theatre, cinema, etc., on which details of the entertainment or performers are displayed." That only goes back to 1926. For some reason, one of the examples given in the OED, from 1993, is:
Daily Tel. 15 July 21/3 At the Hubbard Dianetics Foundation there's an electric marquee that goes through this routine: Low Self Esteem? Failed Marriage? Tired Of Losing? Relationship Difficulties? Come In Now!
The marquee at the Orpheum today is pushing nothing. Which is always a good show.

44 comments:

Peter said...

Is anything planned for the space?

edutcher said...

If your business is a theater, nothing is never a good show.

Are they just fixing up or is this one of the long goodbyes?

ndspinelli said...

Just read an autobio of Billy Bob Thornton. Kinky Friedman, who I love, helped him write it. Billy Bob is a torured OCD, dyslexic, genius. I would love to know Althouse's review of Sling Blade.

lemondog said...

O/T: why is the German Minister of Finance thumbing his nose at Angela Merkel?

Ann Althouse said...

Based on the building permit, I don't think they're closing.

I Googled to try to get some info. I know they've had fire code troubles. Looks like they are trying to fix it.

chickelit said...

Back in the 70's, the Orpheum used to have live music. The last time I was there may have been in December 1975 when I saw Jerry Jeff Walker. Leo Kottke was supposed to open but Tom Waits substituted at the last minute. link

So sad that it's dark now.

Strelnikov said...

Our Orpheum went dark in the early 80's. I only remember seeing two movies there, "Barry Lyndon" and "Jaws". It must have been the similarity between the two that drew me to them.

Wally Kalbacken said...

I saw Ned Kelly with Mick Jagger in the lead at the Stage Door back in 1970. Miserable film, lousy theater.

What was really worth saving was the Capitol Theater, which was directly across State Street, and which became the civic center that preceded the Overture center. The entrance to the Capitol Theater was wild, if that had been preserved you would have something. The Orpheum is merely old and decrepit.

Just for full disclosure here, I attended the last concert in the Capitol Theater in 1976, which was Dolly Parton and some local bluegrass band (Piper Road Spring Band?). For some reason I remember Dolly Parton vividly, the bluegrass band, not so much.

chickelit said...

Could Madison support a Stanford Theater-style conversion (assuming there was some local David Packard)?

chickelit said...

Does the Majestic Theater over around on King St. still show films? They were sort of an "art house theater" once upon a time. I just googled them and they seem to be just live music.

garage mahal said...

The dobro is the best.instrument. ever. I shudder to think if the resonator guitar were never invented by John Dopyera. And the dobro is uniquely American. Whiskey Before Breakfast. Or, Whiskey After Work in this case. Cheers.

ampersand said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ampersand said...

Here's a link to a great site, CinemaTreasures.org,Orpheum Theater, You'll get a kick out of the sign.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

My first thought is only two building permits for the destruction means Madison Wisconsin is a racist town.

Any decent society, yet mostly "urban" or metropolis like New York, Chicago (heh, you're really not the second city but since I laugh at you so often and feel so poor for the good stuck there), L.A., etc., would have employed AT LEAST ten to twenty people to tell the Orpheum to fuck off.

Would Houston?

Miami?

Madison, Paul "low standards" Soglin, is, was, and will be racist.

Madison loves this racist, so you draw your conclusions, as Paul hath shown how.

Danno said...

In my Google of the Orpheum, it looks like an owner feud and a liquor license issue with the City Council are behind the closing. Never been in there, but it is down the block from the coffeehouse I frequent when visiting Madtown, and it offers a great view of the freakshow.

SunnyJ said...

1970 Andy Warhol movie that was as skanky as the Stage Door...that's what made the whole thing good. Best though, Emmy Lou Harris acoustic at Orpheum in 1980 and Los Lobos at Barrymore maybe 1982 or 83.

Life is good, and when I can't...the song remembers when.

SunnyJ said...

1970 Andy Warhol movie that was as skanky as the Stage Door...that's what made the whole thing good. Best though, Emmy Lou Harris acoustic at Orpheum in 1980 and Los Lobos at Barrymore maybe 1982 or 83.

Life is good, and when I can't...the song remembers when.

ricpic said...

When Orpheus settled there, in the back of the Orpheum, in that dark refuge from cacophony,
Did he find there the dreams that allowed him to work his way back to music,
There, in the dark in the back of the Orpheum?
Well, I should hope so!
For if not there, where?

NotquiteunBuckley said...

Everytime they get out of a comment, they satisfy their need to get out of a comment.

To someone seeking truth, the tactic works everytime to say "squirrel" to a dog lover for instance.

Squirrel "wins" the moment, were it as that, though it rarely is.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

Name two better words than "sparking dialogue."

I know nothing about the terms save memory, faulty, hardcore.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

The idea "Band of Brothers" could associate with reality, in mode of presidential elections, when John Kerry spoke it, solves many problems with regards to poisoning agents and the effects of such.

Titus said...

I had sex in that theater when I was like 16. I think we were supposed to watch Blue Velvet.

The Queen just parachuted into the Olympics. It was fake natch, but totally gross.

Carnifex said...

@Garage

When you linked Dobro, I was baffled. I was thinking of the small hand drum used in celtic music. I couldn't picture "Whiskey in the Mornin'" being anything but a drum solo :-)

While back (decades) I got to work on a renovation of an old theater down town. Rebuilt the entire ticket box by myself. Loads of fun. Also found a bunch of old newspapers from 1945 advertising "Lum and Abner" live in person, with "Ice Cold Air Conditioning!"

I had listened to Lum and Abner growing up in the country. Early saturday radio program, but that was 20-25 years later. I found a DVD once that starred them in a movie. Think "Brother, Where Art Thou" for this sort of thing, only they weren't being nostalgic. Or a country version of Abbot and Costello.

Anyway, I have good memories of old theaters...except when I fell through the roof.

Titus said...

Althouse needs to be live blogging the opening ceremony of the Olympics.

It is so cheeky and hilarious.

rastajenk said...

AA, I can't believe you're not blogging the Olympic show; it seems right up your alley. I just tuned in to some kind of song and dance tribute to socialized medicine. Some pretty weird stuff going on.

Titus said...

Here comes Mary Poppins to the music Tubular Bells.

Dear Lord this is hilarious.

Titus said...

I don't know what is funnier, the ceremony, or Matt and Meredith explaining it to us.

Now Mary Poppins is tucking the children into their beds after they had dreams of Voldemart, who was 100 feet tall and had sparks shoot out from his eyes-thanks Matt.

Danny Boyle your entire movie bio has been crushed with this disgusting show.


He went from Trainspotting to this.

Wow.

Mr. Bean is now playing the theme from Chariots of Fire...with the tip of an umbrella. He is also running with the runners from the movie but decides to take a cab.

This is fucking comedy gold. I can't wait for the parodies.

AllieOop said...

Mr.Bean!

NotquiteunBuckley said...

How does a feeble one but awkwardly feeblize?

In the plural, I mean, as one, I guess.

rastajenk said...

England, the folks that gave the world Glam Rock!!

Richard Dolan said...

" ... pushing nothing. Which is always a good show."

Ann has been channeling her inner Beckett for a while now. Here it is again.This morning she graced us with a visit from an Estragon of old. Nice to have had the pleasure of his company for that fleeting moment.

It's funny how Beckett, and Waiting especially, mark the end of a once promising line. Like the Gov. Moonbeam train to nowhere.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

How many bigger winners than Paul Sauglin are there?

.0001?

HuH?

.00001?

Hah hah hah hah hah truth hurts, fucks, and kills.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

THe idea, to be clear, that "truth" leads to death is only true when not typing happily, drunk, and with zero intent to advocate death in any manner except such as my State (of the fifty) allows through due process.

Rusty said...

NotquiteunBuckley said...
Name two better words than "sparking dialogue."



Yes.

Shut up

rhhardin said...

They're showing an existential Bergman film.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

The question of the Coen's, meaning defined hereby as "what they ought to thought" is finished.

Yet, I strike my conversation with you-know-who, and BADABINGNIT!

I don't hate, nor disagree, via me, most who play This is is

Jason (the commenter) said...

So the theater Althouse never goes to is closing, how sad. If only she could have done something...

In Tampa we have the Tampa Theatre, built in 1926 and still in all its glory. It even has a working organ, which they'll be using to play the music for a restored silent Hitchcock movie in a few weeks.

People go there all the time, and for some mysterious reason, it's still open.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

My mother is pro-abortion, I was unplanned, as I think very much different from all my family.

Gob bless you all, everyone.

bagoh20 said...

Wasn't Billy Bob amazing in Slingblade?

An wild debut for the man, and then life got real interesting for him. That would be fun.

purplepenquin said...

Not sure what else they are looking to remove from the Stagedoor Theater, 'cause it ain't there at all. That "claustrophobic place" (and yes, I agree! Was always bummed when the movie I went to see was back there) was ripped out a year or so ago and the whole theater is opened up as just one space again. They also redid the stage and put some holes in the ceiling so they can hang trusses in front of the stage. They've had a few rock/bluegrass/pop shows in there, but because of the licensing (and other) issues it'll be a while before that marquee is lit up again...which is sad, 'cause it is a wonderful & historic space.

Lem said...

Are we helping Google break some law?... When we help them read numbers to prove we are not robots?

Andrew Koenig said...

This reminds me of the lines from the Joni Mitchell song:

There's a double-bill murder at the New Daisy
The old girl's silent across the street
Silent, waiting for the wrecker's beat
Silent, staring at her stolen name

Jim said...

Poignant feelings here. I grew up in Madison in the 40's & 50's. Saw Gone with the Wind in the Orpheum, Marty in the Park, Fantasia at the Capital in 1944 (and spent most of the show hiding behind the seat because the dinosaurs scared the hell out of me), a bunch of El Cheapo westerns at the Majestic, and watched my future wife come out of the Strand with her Fiance)...

The Orpheum wasn't "old and decrepit" in the 1940s; it was a glory.

TMF2 said...

Sad to hear about this. Had a job there while in college (mostly at the Stage Door, but occasionally at the Orpheum). Eventually my (now) wife and one of her friends got jobs there, too. Other than the low wages, it was a great college job. Great memories.