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The Adler Theatre
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Adler Theatre

Originally primarily a movie house, and named the Orpheum Theatre, this Davenport Landmark was opened in 1931 at a cost of $2 million. On opening night Ginger Rogers sent a telegraphic signal from Hollywood that began the ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the Theatre's opening festivities. She also sent flowers from her Hollywood home’s garden to Mrs. George M. Bechtel, the wife of the Theatre's developer.

During the early years, entertainment legends such as John Barrymore, Liberace, Ella Fitzgerald and Pearl Bailey performed live at the Theatre.

Eventually, the Orpheum's large seating capacity and operating costs contributed to its demise as a first-run movie house. The final film shown at the Orpheum was "Cleopatra Jones" on September 11, 1973. After that, the Theatre was occasionally used for Broadway productions and rock concerts. Unfortunately, the theatre gradually fell into disrepair.

The Davenport Chamber of Commerce purchased the Orpheum in 1981 and donated it to the River Center For The Performing Arts, Inc. This nonprofit group was founded to raise money from private sources in order to restore the Theatre and to operate the facility as a performing arts center. The goal was set at $4.25 million and the community rallied to the cause. The most notable contribution was a $1.3 million endowment gift from Lee Enterprises. To honor the large gift, the Orpheum was renamed the Adler Theatre in memory of publishers, E.P. Adler and his son Philip D. Adler, both known for their charitable and cultural achievements in the community.

The two year massive renovation of the Adler Theatre began in. The building was essentially gutted before being restored to its former Art Deco elegance. Fortunately, original crystal and glass chandeliers were able to be restored. The original seats were rebuilt, reupholstered and their hand-painted side panels were restored. To maintain the original design, new carpeting was reproduced in England using a roll of the original floral woolen carpeting found during remodeling. The transformation of the Orpheum into the magnificent Adler Theatre was finally a reality.

The Adler Theatre's curtain rose once again on April 16, 1986 with a gala concert by Burt Bacharach and the Quad City Symphony Orchestra. Since that time, the beautifully restored 2,400 seat Adler Theatre has hosted celebrity headliners, Broadway greats, comedians, dance and symphony performances. The proud tradition of quality entertainment lives on at the Adler Theatre.

The theatre has hosted performances ranging from Cat’s, to Dave Matthews, Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan. The Quad City Symphony Orchestra performs in the Adler, and it has hosted national performance competitions including dance and beauty competitions.

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