April 30, 1974
Vaudeville makes a nostalgic return to
Orange Theater May 21
By Louise Meteer
ORANGE - If you could peel back the years, like paper upon the wall,
what remnants of former splendour might you find?
A key to this riddle emerges in the Old Orange Theater as it is renewed
and refurbished to become a more resplendent replica of itself in the
mode of the later 1920's.
Sixty thousand dollars from now, lights upon the marquee will emblazon a
new beginning, as The Orange Playhouse launches its opening night May 21
for a 32-week run of Broadway plays with big name stars.
Guests will arrive by Cadillac and Rolls Royce for the Premier
attraction, "Last of the Great Red Hot Lovers."
There is what seems to the onlooker an almost insurmountable task to be
accomplished before opening night. It proceeds in a dervish of creaking
boards, banging hammer and choking dust that clears to reveal the nearly
forgotten lavishness of those days when the theater was part of the
Pantages vaudeville circuit.
In the lobby the original wallpaper, framed in peeling gold paint,
emerged last week only to be stripped for the new, posh bar where
audiences may exchange pleasantries while awaiting the next act.
Within the auditorium, seats are being lifted for new upholstery and
all-over carpeting to match the aisles; the silver screen that has
reflected the stern visage of William S. Hart and the blonde curls of
Mary Pickford lies rolled and waiting for the trash heap.
The fine pipe organ, one of three of its kind in the United States today
will remain in the orchestra pit for future concerts that will
intersperse special closed circuit television of sporting events during
the remaining 20 weeks of each year.
Beneath the stage, the dressing rooms are waiting, their star-studded
doors traced with the graffiti that is a history of the past.
It all seems to symbolize "the King, (or perhaps the Queen) is
dead. Long live the King." Whatever the semantics, there still
remains a nose-tingling aroma of pop corn from "the last picture
Al Edward, Orange Playhouse manager, says that just like popcorn,
"It's in the bag."