Take a back stage tour of the Orpheum theatre

The BC Entertainment Hall of Fame celebrates the summer season by conducting guided tours of the Historic Orpheum.

As the Orpheum is a working theatre, tours and content may vary. On the day that we toured the Orpheum, we learned about the rich history of Vancouver’s most opulent theatres. We were fortunate to see the theatre from backstage, above the seats in the projection room and through the baffles on the other side of the painted ceiling mural. The 90 minute tour reveals some of the secrets of its history and even some ghost stories.

We delight groups by taking them from the top of the iconic dome and then right down into the basement where the original ice-block air conditioning room was first installed in 1927”

says Rob Haynes, President, BC Entertainment Hall of Fame.

The restored Orpheum boasts of over 140 original Czechoslovakian crystal chandeliers and the tour shows how the glorious chandelier is hung from the iconic dome.

Some of the stories include how the former theatre manager Ivan Ackery filled the Orpheum. World renowned theatre architect, Marcus Priteca designed over 220 theatres in North America and the Orpheum is considered one of his finest accomplishments.  With a mixture of Spanish Renaissance and hints of Morocco, the Taj Mahal, Moorish arches and British heraldry, the Orpheum boasts of soaring lines, gold leaf and grand staircases.

The Orpheum was scheduled for demolition in the early 70’s and there was public outcry.

“Thankfully, the City of Vancouver bought the theatre with the help of private citizens and other levels of government support.  The Orpheum was saved!

says Norman Young, past Chair and Commissioner Emeritus of the Vancouver Civic Theatres Board.

Tours of the “Grand Old Lady of Granville Street” will take place every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 11am from July 2 to August 31st. The 90 minute walking tours are open to the public with no advance booking required. Admission is by minimum $10.00 cash only donation.  All proceeds will go to further the work of the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame which honours British Columbians who have excelled in all disciplines of entertainment. Those interested should arrive at the Orpheum’s Smithe Street entrance at least 10 minutes prior to the 11 am start time. Orpheum Tours are limited to a maximum of 30 people on a first come first served basis or for a guaranteed reservation call 604-665-3470.

For further information visit www.bcentertainmenthalloffame.com

Orpheum Fast Facts:

  • Built in 1927 for  $1.25 million
  • Purchased in 1974 by the City of Vancouver for $7.1 million and operated by the Vancouver Civic Theatres
  • 2672 seats
  • Over 142 Czechoslovakian crystal chandeliers
  • Many stars have graced the stage over the years including, Marilyn Munroe, Bob Hope, Jimmy Durante, Louis Armstrong and WC Fields

Vancouver Vantage Editorial Team