I've always wanted to take a tour of the Orpheum Theater in downtown Phoenix and recently I finally did. (If you've read my blog before, then you will recognize the outdoor photos here of the theatre that I took with a tilt shift lens last year.) The theatre offers tours twice a month in the middle of the day and though I had been there once before at night to hear Rob Bell talk, I didn't get to see the whole place.
The day I went for the tour, they were having a huge open house tour. There were tour guides all over the place telling about the history of the theatre, but you could come and go and explore the whole place on your own, you didn't have to stay with the group.
It's so pretty on the inside. Honestly, it made me feel like I was stepping into some magnificent Disneyland ride! It first opened in 1929 before the Great Depression. It was one of the few places that had air conditioning in the Phoenix area, so you can imagine it was pretty exciting to go there in the summer!
This room (below) has a number of names. Two of them are The Kissing Room and The Room of the Young Moderns. The super cool and intriguing thing about this room is that if you stand at the exact center of the room and say something your voice will be amplified just like you are talking into a microphone. The tour guide lady told me to stand in the middle and say something without telling me my voice would be amplified. Kind of a shock to suddenly hear your voice sooo much louder than you expected but really cool too!
There are a bunch of elliptical staircases. One staircase takes you to the balconies, to the second floor and another takes you to the basement level. When I was heading down to the basement level I saw a bunch of people standing downstairs looking up.
This is what they were seeing. These really gorgeous peacocks made of metal foil.
One of the tour guides suggested that since I seemed to love the place so much I should become a tour guide or an usher for event nights. That actually does sound pretty cool, but what I would really like to do is photograph a wedding here. And if I ever do, I will bring wider angle lenses. I was using my 50 mm lens which I am madly in love with, but a wider lens would be good to show the sweeping grandeur of the place.
These winged creatures (above) were in a very dark corner and I could barely see them in the dark so I turned my focusing on my camera to manual to take the photo and so when I turned around to take the photo of the stage (below) my focusing was still on manual, so I get this blurry effect, which I really kinda like.
The tour guide lady said that the Orpheum Theatre is unique in this way in particular: there was no one particular inspiration for the style of the theatre. The designers borrowed ideas from all sorts of styles: Spanish Baroque Revival, Egyptian (which was pretty popular in the 1920's), art deco, art nouveau, Roman, Greek, Moroccan, and tons of others I can't remember.
The story about the carpet at the Orpheum Theatre goes something like this: When they went to reconstruct the theatre they had no idea what the original carpet looked like but during reconstruction someone discovered some of the old carpet (hidden somewhere under a wall or floor where it was safe from the wear and tear of years), and so they had new carpet created and installed that looked just like the original.
Tours take place at noon on the first and third Tuesdays of the month (at least they do right now--they seem to switch up tour times every so often). And events happen there all the time.
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