The Orpheum, in its early days, housed the most famous vaudeville acts of the time, but by 1982 it was a barely relevant movie theater and was falling into disrepair. The company that managed the theatre, Kerasotes Theatres, decided it was time to close the doors on The Orpheum. For it’s last show, The Orpheum was scheduled to show 'The Sender'.
If you’ve never heard of it, you're in good company. 'The Sender' was by no means a big show, especially at the dying Orpheum. The marquee letters had already been sent away, and so the theatre didn’t even display the right marquee, putting up “The Zender” instead. According to a previous usher, the theatre employees at the time hoped that the community would come out to the last show, and so they popped all the popcorn and prepared for that last goodbye, but only 2 people showed up. All of the ushers sat with the two audience members to enjoy the show together, and they left with trash bags full of popcorn. After the theatre was closed and locked, someone took down the S and the ER, leaving the marquee with the simple phrase “The End”.
Fortunately, it wasn’t the end of the Orpheum Theatre. Through the next decade, the community, headed by Prairie Players Civic Theatre, managed to raise $100,000 to renovate and reclaim The Orpheum Theatre and transform it into a non-profit providing arts, music and entertainment to the community!