Red Carpet Event to Benefit Orpheum's 80-year-old Marquee

By: Dana Brueck
By: Dana Brueck

A historic State Street landmark is rolling out the red carpet. A UW Madison alum who works in Hollywood's entertainment industry is holding a fundraising event for the Orpheum Theatre's marquee.

The marquee dates back to 1927, but a young man with an affection for his hometown and old movie houses has a plan to restore the sign to its former glory.

"It's been here for 80 years, and hope to be here for another 80 years," Orpheum owner Henry Doane says.

But, the Orpheum Theatre's marquee needs a makeover.

"It could use a lot of sockets and a lot of re-wiring so it's gonna be quite expensive," Doane says.

A UW Madison alum, who's also a former employee of the Orpheum, has put the spotlight on the dimly lit marquee. He lives in Los Angeles but is organizing a fundraiser to restore the 80-year-old signs of the old movie palace.

"I think that with the marquee rebuilt and refurbished, it really completes the upper two blocks of State Street. I can see that picture in the future, kind of, being one of the centerpieces of Madison that everybody can be proud of," Kris Warren says in a phone interview with NBC 15.

Supporters say restoring or reproducing the signs will cost in the tens of thousands of dollars, but they hope a little Hollywood magic will sell tickets to a red carpet-like fundraiser.

"It'll be a movie premiere. We'll have the red carpet, the bright lights and spot lights going. I think it's going to be an exciting event for people," Warren says.

He says ticket holders will enjoy a reception in the theatre, an auction and an advanced screening of the film "We Are Marshall."

People gathered for a memorial service to remember football players, coaches and fans, who died in 1970 when their plane crashed on the way back to Marshall University in West Virginia.

"This movie is the story of the town and the university coming together to rebuild the program and to deal with the tragedy and the loss. It's a heartfelt and pull at the heartstrings movie," Warren says.

A movie about a community supporting each other. A movie Orpheum fans hope moves people to support an aging landmark.

"It's certainly a challenging task. It's something I couldn't do on my own, so I'm glad to see the community helping to get it done," Doane says.

"Relight the Marquee" is December 12 at the theatre. You can find more information online at

Tickets cost $25 and $50.

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