The Alder Theatre

2006 - Venue

Hometown: Davenport, IA

Bio: On Oct. 13, 1926 plans for the Orpheum Theatre were announced. Business was booming for the RKO Theatre chain and they needed a larger complex. Built at a cost of $2 million, the Orpheum Theatre-Mississippi Hotel complex was considered an economic miracle. At the Theatre's opening on Nov. 25, 1931, Davenport and the rest of the country were in the depths of the Great Depression. Opening night featured not only a movie but five vaudeville acts entertained on the stage. This theatre was not only a movie house but a great performance hall for live entertainment. The architect, A. S. Graven of Chicago, also designed the Paramount Theater in New York City. Called the RKO/Orpheum, the building was done in Art Deco style with gold leaf ceiling, crystal light fixtures and black ebony, walnut and marble detailing. Among the outstanding entertainers to grace the stage were John Barrymore, Liberace, Ella Fitzgerald and Pearl Bailey. Then RockNRoll came along and the Adler played host to countless Iowa rock and roll bands. Nearly all of Eastern Iowa’s bands performed at the Orpheum, many opening for big names on the national music scene. Joe Cocker, Iron Butterfly, ShaNaNa, Styx, Jackson Browne, the Bellamy Brothers and the Righteous Brothers are a few of the rockers who played the Orpheum. Broadway show touring companies also played there. In 1981, the Davenport Chamber of Commerce purchased the RKO/Orpheum and donated it to the RiverCenter For The Performing Arts, Inc. This nonprofit group was established to raise money to restore the theatre and to operate the facility as a performing arts center. $4.25 million was raised with a $1.3 million endowment given by Lee Enterprises. In honor of that gift the Orpheum was renamed the Adler Theatre in memory of publishers E.P. Adler and his son Philip D. Adler. The crystal chandeliers have been restored. Original seats have been rebuilt, reupholstered and hand painted. New carpeting made exactly like the original was created in England. A gala concert featuring Burt Bacharach and the Quad City Symphony opened the restored theatre on April 16, 1986. Rock, country, celebrity headliners along with Broadway greats, comedians, dance and symphony performances are keeping music alive and well in the Quad-Cities. Seating 2,400 people, the Adler continues to provide quality entertainment in Southeast Iowa for area residents and thousands of visitors. For its contribution to supporting rock and roll music as well as hundreds of Iowa musicians, the Orpheum/Adler Theatre joins the elite Hall of Fame Class of 2006.

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