Historic Orpheum Theatre: From Classic to Contemporary

By James Riemermann

Orpheum ChandelierMinneapolis’ historic Orpheum Theatre is staging two blockbuster musicals and a powerful, award-winning drama this winter as part of its “Broadway on Hennepin” series. Billed as the largest vaudeville house in the country when it opened in 1921, with early performances by the Marx Brothers, Jack Benny and Fanny Brice, the Orpheum was lovingly restored for $10 million in the early 90s with a magnificent, 2,000-pound chandelier and an extended stage befitting big theater and musical shows.

Running from Dec. 13-31 is Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s perennially popular “The Phantom of the Opera,” with eye-popping new designs, staging and choreography, and a cast and orchestra of 52, making it one of the largest productions now on tour.

Stephen Karam’s funny, hopeful and moving family drama “The Humans,” winner of best play at both the 2016 Tony Awards and the New York Drama Critics Circle, will run from Feb. 13-18, revealing a family’s secret fears and follies at a Thanksgiving gathering in Manhattan.

The last show of the winter will be “School of Rock,” based on the Jack Black movie about a rocker posing as a substitute teacher who turns his prep school students into a head-banging rock band. The play was reimagined with 14 original songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber, plus all the original songs from the movie, and a real kid’s rock band playing their instruments live on stage. It runs March 6-11.

For more information, call 800-859-7469, or visit hennepintheatretrust.com/broadway.