Behind-the-scenes at the Orpheum: The secret of sparkle

Cleaning the Orpheum chandelier is a delicate and lengthy process. Over eight days in November, the extremely skilled and experienced Orpheum operations staff, led by third generation stagehand and Orpheum Operations Coordinator Dave Marietta, conducted the labor intensive process of lowering and hand cleaning the Orpheum chandelier.

Weighing two tons and measuring 15 feet high, this sculpted brass behemoth has 187 light bulbs, 84 main candles and 12 candelabras with seven candlesticks on each one. It has greeted theatre patrons since the Orpheum Theatre re-opened in December 1993 following a $10 million renovation. The chandelier, manufactured in Chicago and designed from similar fixtures in Austria, cost approximately $250,000 at the time. It is not, however, original to the building because a chandelier before the renovation would have gotten in the way of the projector when the nearly century old theatre was used as a movie house. The cleaning process, done every five years, requires five staff members to individually clean the 88 glass beads on each of the approximately 180 strands with a mixture of glass cleaner and regular soap and water.

During the Orpheum renovation, a special lunch was held in the dome for local stakeholders including elected officials and architects. Wall-to-wall scaffolding had been assembled in the theatre which created a small space under the dome to allow guests to see the actual size of the decorative plaster moldings and silver leaf which still covers the dome. Attendees were allowed a once-in-a-lifetime experience to “dine in the dome.

View our time lapse video of the Orpheum chandelier cleaning from local photographer and videographer Bill Hickey. Thanks again to Dave Marietta and his staff for allowing us this rare look to discover the secret of the sparkle. Don’t forget to look up the next time you are at the Orpheum!

One response to “Behind-the-scenes at the Orpheum: The secret of sparkle

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