I love magic, and I love the arts. So, it’s probably no surprise that I love the magic of the theater. Hennepin Theatre Trust, which manages the Orpheum, Pantages, State and New Century Theatres, offers tours on the 2nd Saturday and last Monday of the month. You’ll be able to see whatever theaters aren’t currently featuring a production. Summers have a slower schedule, so I was excited to see the big three on Hennepin Ave.
The Pantages–which now seats 1,014–opened in 1916 as a vaudeville house and part of Greek immigrant Alexander Pantages’ renowned consortia of theatres. The Pantages’ first show was a vaudeville lineup that included singers, comedians and a banjo player.
The State Theatre–which seats 2,181–opened in 1921 and was then considered the most technologically advanced and elaborate U.S. theater. The opening night program included a silent film, newsreel and travelogue.
The Orpheum Theatre, originally known as the Hennepin, opened in 1921 and seats 2,579. Its first performers included the Marx Brothers with more than 70,000 guests attending the opening week run. The largest vaudeville house in the country when opened, the Orpheum was major outlet for entertainers like Jack Benny, George Burns and Fanny Brice and big bands including Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and Count Basie.