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{November 28, 2012}   The Orpheum Theater, Boston

Orpheum Theater, Boston

Orpheum Theater, Boston

Deciding to become a volunteer usher at the Orpheum Theater after my first season at Concerts on the Common was one of the best decisions I ever made. Julie and I decided when we started there to branch out and make other friends (we spent so much time together). We picked different aisles to work so we could meet new people; it was healthy and exciting. (Little did I know that working there would be my ONLY social life at times.)

If you read its history, the theater is quite old. Some performers liked that aspect…I overheard some call it a dump. If you take a look on the Orpheum official web site, there’s a list of the shows scrolling on the right-hand side by date. I love that they have this so I can remember it all. I saw so many bands over the years, and also some comedians and oddball events: even a wedding! (Two of the ushers who met there, got married there.)

Orpheum wedding

Orpheum wedding

My husband used to say that we saw “bands on the way up and bands on the way down.”  This was because of the size of the venue: not a club, but a small theater seating approximately 2800 (this is a generous estimate). It seemed like there were always broken seats. They were pretty difficult to repair after a time…too many holes drilled over and over in the wooden backs of the same ancient velvet seats; I always pitied the maintenance guy working with all those old bits and pieces.

But the Orpheum has great acoustics. Many live shows were recorded there during my time including James Taylor and the Allman Brothers (we called them the “house band” because they played there so often).

Allman Brothers Live at the Orpheum

Allman Brothers Live at the Orpheum

As volunteer ushers, we finished working officially not too long after the headline band began to play. Once we were “released” everyone would scramble to find a seat on the aisle steps in the mezzanine — the best place to see the show. You were close to the stage, but with an unobstructed view from above. And structurally it was designed to “give” or move, which made it an adventure sitting there for some shows. You could “feel” the music. When the B52’s played there and everyone was dancing, some people were frightened because you could actually see the mezzanine moving up and down. You could barely walk from one side to the other in a straight line; it was like trying to walk on a wave-tossed boat.

And it had that old smell — like mustiness, sweat, and old beer. But I’ll always have a soft spot for the old place.



et cetera
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