Roberts Orpheum Opens

The 1,400-seat Roberts Orpheum Theater – formerly the American Theatre – in St. Louis opened its doors April 10th with a Backstreet Boys concert.

With the opening, the venue hopes to rid itself of its past hard rock reputation and focus on a more mature audience.

“It worked really well with that genre of music for several years,” Joe Litvag, VP of AEG Live‘s Midwest office, told Pollstar. “These days, the venue has a new owner, they’ve put a lot of money into turning it into a nicer theatre, and we’ve decided that we’re trying to carve a new niche and go after a different audience.”

The new owners are Mike and Steve Roberts of St. Louis, who also deal in real estate development and own several television stations. The brothers have already put $2.5 million worth of renovations into the former vaudeville house and still have about $1.5 million to go, according to venue GM Michael Jennings.

After more than a year of renovations – which included new seats, lighting, restrooms and an added party room beneath the stage – the 88-year-old theatre finally opened.

“It’s a great space,” Jennings told Pollstar. “[The Roberts brothers] really wanted to bring this back to what it used to be.”

The theatre has partnered with AEG Live with hopes of bringing in approximately 50 shows a year. Currently, it has concerts booked well into September. Some of those acts include The Doors of The 21st Century, Mindy Smith, Tesla, Rick Springfield, Chris Isaak, and Brian Wilson.

“We want to bring in shows that reflect the audience we’re going after – an adult crowd,” Jennings explained.

Litvag, however, has run into minor problems with agents relating the Orpheum to the days of the American Theatre, when the venue saw the likes of Insane Clown Posse and White Zombie. But after explaining the new venue’s goals, agents begin to see the bigger picture.

“Generally speaking, once we’ve gone through that process with agents and explained that vision fully to them, they seem to be buying into it,” Litvag said.

And despite similar-sized venues in the area, Litvag and Jennings agree that a little healthy competition can’t hurt.

“I love competition,” Jennings said. “The more things are available, the more people will get out and start doing things.”