About Us

Early Days

In 1915, William J. Olson, owner of the Gaiety Theatre at the corner of Cherry and Simmons Streets, engaged the prominent architectural firm of C.W. & George L. Rapp to break ground for the Orpheum Theatre. The Rapp brothers were making waves with their philosophy that a theatre should be “a shrine to democracy where the wealthy rub elbows with the poor.”

Their free blend of Italian Renaissance and Second Empire style of 19th century France with flourishes of classical, baroque and art nouveau gave the Orpheum an eclectic elegance.  The Orpheum was budgeted at an astonishing $75,000, but when finished wound up costing over $135,000.

Built as a vaudeville house, The Orpheum hosted many early stars of stage and screen, including Jack Benny, George Burns, Houdini, Al Jolson, Edgar Bergen, Fanny Brice and Blackstone the Magician.  The Orpheum was the finest in construction, acoustics, and accommodations, but as was the fate of most palaces of the era, the Orpheum’s splendor could not withstand the demise of vaudeville and the rising popularity of television.  

Recent Memory​

By the late 1970s, the Orpheum was part of the Kerasotes movie theater conglomerate. Due to high operating costs, the Orpheum was forced to close in 1982. The theatre was donated by the Kerosotes Company to the Knox County Civic Center Authority and a successful fund drive by the Prairie Players Civic Theatre raised $100,000 to restore the Orpheum to its former glory. A $2-million grant from the State of Illinois made the plan a reality. On May 5, 1988, the curtain rose on the Henry Mancini Orchestra for the re-inauguration gala.

Today, the Orpheum continues to reflect its former glory, bringing to the stage a diverse blend of the finest entertainment including Mickey Rooney, Collin Raye, the Doobie Brothers, Glen Miller Orchestra, Bo Diddley, The Acting Company and the Russian National Ballet companies. The theatre is also home to many local performing arts and non-profit organizations that bring music, movies, dance and theatre to our stage.

Meet The Orpheum Theatre Staff

Andrew Driscoll image

Andrew Driscoll

Executive Director

Graduating from Peoria High School, Andrew Driscoll started his career as a professional actor and singer in New York City performing on Broadway and along with his solo performance work also released 3 vocal recordings. Post 9/11, Andrew made the choice to move back to Peoria and create its first resident nonprofit professional theatre exclusively contracting actors and stage managers from Actors’ Equity Association within the Apollo Theatre on Main Street. After 2 years, he made the business decision to relocate the effort as a for profit venture along Peoria’s Riverfront with the purchase of a venue called The Waterhouse on Water Street. For the next 20 years, The Waterhouse at the original location and for the last 10 years in the MAXAM Building has been the umbrella organization which has hosted and executed over 1,000 private banquet events and 850 shows including performances from Central Illinois Dueling Pianos, Peoria Cabaret Theatre, and the Broadway Lounge.

Ross McIntire

Technical Director / Facility Manager

Ross McIntire is from Galva, Illinois, and attended North Central College in Naperville where he studied Theatre Performance. He made his Galesburg stage debut as Hot Blades Harry in Carl Sandburg College’s Urinetown, and went on to play Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls, Snoopy in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and Will Parker in Oklahoma! with Prairie Players Civic Theatre. Ross has been the Technical Director and Facility Manager of the Galesburg Orpheum Theatre since 2012. He trained in the art of building care under former Orpheum superintendent Roger Schoonover until the latter’s death in 2015, and has collaborated with Restoration Manager Gary Morgan since 2014.  He resides in Galesburg.

Tim Holmes

Box Office Manager​

Tim Holmes grew up in the ROWVA community and has lived in the Galesburg area for most of his life.  Tim has been very involved in the theatre community, working with groups like Prairie Players Civic Theatre, Galesburg Community Theatre, Carl Sandburg College, Stage Right Productions and Coffee Bean Theatre.  Tim is an instructor/director with the Performing Arts Academy of Galesburg, where he teaches acting classes and works towards producing their annual spring musical.  Through the organization, Tim has had the opportunity to work with many talented and dedicated kids, parents, and volunteers. Favorite shows at the Academy include Shrek, The Little Mermaid, and Annie.  Tim is also a native to the stage, and some of his favorite roles include: Caldwell B. Cladwell in Urinetown, The Major General in Pirates of Penzance, and George Hay in Moon Over Buffalo. Tim enjoys directing the Orpheum Ensemble and their live radio plays. Other shows he has directed include:South Pacific, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and Guys and Dolls. 

Cianja Bone

Theatre Assistant​

Cianja (see-ahn-yah) is originally from Colorado, and recently graduated from Knox College with a degree in Creative Writing and Philosophy. While at Knox, Cianja grew to love The Orpheum Theatre, and is excited to get the privlege of staying in town and working here. In their free time they work on writing plays and have had plays produced and recognized by Knox college, The Davenport Awards, and Pocket Theater VR.  Cianja is the newest addition to our Orpheum staff and is excited to get to learn more about the theatre every day. 

THE ORPHEUM THEATRE BOARD OF DIRECTORS

The Orpheum Theatre is actually run by two boards!  The first is The Orpheum Theatre Inc, NFP and the second is The Knox County Metropolitan Exposition, Auditorium, and Office Building Authority.  Both boards are comprised of the same members.  You can see why we just refer to them as The Orpheum Theatre Board of Directors!

Keri Dodson
Chair

Bridgeway Inc.

 

Andrew Driscoll
Executive Director

 

Ryan Probst 
Treasurer

Galesburg Holiday Inn

Corey Fineran
Secretary

Transition Curriculum Inc.

 

Members

Tom McIntire

F&M Bank

Gary Morgan

Restoration Manager

Scott Cramer

Re/Max Traders Unlimited

Alec Guroff

Knox College CFO​

Karen Cates

Strategic Planner

 
Jaclyn Smith-Esters

The Salvation Army Heartland Division: Pathway of Hope Regional Coordinator

The Orpheum Theatre Strategic Plan

At the end of 2023, The Orpheum Theatre Board decided to begin a process of Strategic planning, to elevate The Orpheum Theatre’s operations to the next level. While that process is ongoing, we are excited to be able to show you our plan so far!

 

Your Orpheum Story

The Orpheum Theatre, built in 1916, has a rich and incredible history in the Galesburg community. Since it was created, the theatre has been everything from a vaudeville variety theatre, to a movie theatre, to a rental venue space, to a historical site. The theatre is rich with history and rich with stories, and we want to hear yours! Whether it’s a movie you saw in the good old days, a show you were in last week, or just an amazing event you got to see, we want to know more. Feel free to fill out our form sharing your Orpheum story, or post it on social media and tag the Galesburg Orpheum so we can hear about your experiences!
Skip to content