According to historical reports, when the Orpheum Theater opened for New Orleans fans on Feb. 7, 1921, the focus was on vaudeville.
“Jewel and fur clad women and dapper gentlemen filled the Orpheum Theater, New Orleans’ newest and most fashionable theater where ‘good taste reigned everywhere,’” one report said. “This auspicious evening’s main attraction was The Singer Midgets, who were to enter Hollywood immortality nine years later as the Munchkins of ‘The Wizard of Oz.’
“A bit of incongruous perhaps with the ‘dressed-to-the-nines’ crowd, but this was the heyday of vaudeville and the Singer Midgets was a class act – and so was the Orpheum.”
Just under 85 years later, this is music to the ears of producer Trixie Minx and the Orpheum’s Kristin Shannon, who, over coffee inside the nearby Roosevelt Hotel, are giddy with excitement over the historic theater playing elegant host to “Cupid’s Cabaret,” a mix of variety acts that celebrates Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. While Minx has made her mark as a burlesque performer and producer — she literally performed on both the East Coast and West Coast when not in New Orleans over the course of 2015 — she is emphatic about extolling her vaudeville influences.
And while she is quick to note the vaudeville influences in her monthly, decade-old “Fleur de Tease” show at One Eyed Jacks, she wants people to think of “Cupid’s Cabaret” as a nod to those more purely vaudeville instincts.
“We want this event to be more than a show but an experience of what it was like to be in the Orpheum back then,” Minx said. “An interactive vaudeville presentation on a Vegas-size level … with a modern take.”
I’ll have more on that take soon, but first I thought it would be fun to present a little “Throwback Thursday” of historic photos, courtesy of the Orpheum staff, to remember a time when it was the likes of the Singer Sisters and Al Jolson who ruled the stage and not the silver screen that came to dominate as the theater entered the middle of the 20th century.
More on the overall show; for now, enjoy this little trip down memory lane. For tickets and more information, click here.
Read more about the return of the Orpheum and other historic New Orleans theaters in my Biz New Orleans piece.
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