The Orpheum Theater is the most intact and finest remaining example of a vaudeville and movie theater in Madison. It was one of the two grand movie palaces built in downtown Madison during the heyday of motion picture entertainment, the period of opulent theaters in which one movie mogul remarked “we sell tickets to theaters, not movies.” Financed in part by dentist William Beecroft, also known locally as “Mr. Theater,” it cost a whopping $750,000 to construct. Along with the Capitol Theater across the street, it was the venue for big name orchestras and stage stars, in addition to first run movies. Its French Renaissance interior made it one of the most beautiful public spaces in the city. The limestone exterior was built in the very fashionable Art Deco style, and the towering “Orpheum” sign is a visual landmark in downtown Madison.
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