The Orpheum Theatre President Announces Retirement

Pat Halloran, longtime President and CEO of the Memphis Development Foundation which operates The Orpheum Theatre, has announced plans to retire on December 31, 2015. Halloran joined the Memphis Development Foundation (MDF) in 1980 and will have completed 35 years of service at the time of his retirement.

The Orpheum has enjoyed the theatre's most successful era under Halloran's leadership. Erected as part of the Orpheum circuit of Vaudeville theatres in 1928, the theatre struggled under a series of owners. When the Great Depression eventually took its toll, The Orpheum was purchased at auction in 1940 by M.A. Lightman and became the flagship of the Malco movie theatre chain. However, the urban decay of Downtown Memphis and the popularity of the suburban multi-plex convinced Lightman to move Malco's headquarters to East Memphis. The Memphis Development Foundation purchased the theatre in 1976 and hired Halloran as general manager in 1980, charging him with the task of raising the $5.2 million needed to restore the historic theatre to her original splendor. The Orpheum re-opened to the public in 1984 to rave reviews and began presenting touring Broadway shows and live concerts.

In the 1990s, when Halloran realized the size of The Orpheum's stage and backstage areas would not adequately accommodate some of the larger productions that were touring the country, like The Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon, he initiated a $9 million building expansion that doubled the size of the stage and backstage areas. The theatre was equipped with state-of-the-art lighting and sound equipment, elevating The Orpheum to a world-class performing arts facility. In total, The Orpheum has benefitted from over $25 million in improvements raised through campaigns under Halloran's direction.

During his tenure, Halloran implemented multiple programs that continue to serve the community. Each year, more than 70,000 students, teachers, and families participate in The Orpheum's education programs, which include a student matinee series, summer camps, master classes and workshops. Over $150,000 in tickets are donated annually to non-profit organizations in the Mid-South.

Under Halloran's direction, The Orpheum has presented over 300 Broadway productions with over 2,500 performances for combined audiences totaling over 5 million. These productions have starred the luminaries of the stage including Yul Byrnner, Carol Channing, Robert Goulet, Richard Harris, Dorothy Hamill, Marie Osmond, Stacy Keach, Lena Horne, Jerry Lewis, Tony Curtis, Anthony Quinn, Joan Collins, Linda Evans, Robert Morris, Juliet Prowse, and many more.

Concerts, comedians, and special events over those years have combined to construct an impressive list of entertainers such as Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, Julio Iglesias, Johnny Mathis, Tom Petty, Robin Williams, Burt Bacharach, Sarah McLachlan, Carole King, Jerry Seinfeld, Norah Jones, Barry Manilow, Harry Connick Jr., Sheryl Crowe, Jay Leno, Tony Bennett, Tom Jones, Dionne Warwick, Stevie Ray Vaughan, B.B. King, and Isaac Hayes.

To guarantee the enjoyment of The Orpheum by future generations, Halloran developed the idea of a preservation fee on tickets. Designed to help cover the annual maintenance expenses of over $650,000, the preservation fee remains The Orpheum's longest standing key program of Theatre Preservation.

"We will be forever grateful to Pat for his vision and commitment," said Karen Fields-Isaacman, Chairperson of the Memphis Development Foundation Board of Directors. "Under his strong leadership, The Orpheum played an integral role in the revitalization of Downtown Memphis. Thanks to Pat, The Orpheum now thrives as the cultural heart of our community."

"I have sincerely enjoyed every minute of my time at The Orpheum Theatre," said Pat Halloran. "The fabulous memories I've collected are more than most people realize in a lifetime. It's been an honor to watch over this beautiful theatre and to bring Broadway to Beale Street. Hopefully, my contributions to the industry will continue to benefit The Orpheum for years to come."

Halloran played a significant role in the Broadway Theatre industry. He was a founding member and President of the Independent Presenter's Network, a consortium of more than 100 theatres across North America and Japan. He also served on the Board of Directors of The Broadway League, the national trade association of the Broadway industry, who named him "The Outstanding Broadway Executive" in 1999.

Pat Halloran has been the recipient of many additional honors, including three Tony Awards as a producer for Thoroughly Modern Millie (2002), Spamalot (2005), and Memphis (2010). He was also presented with "The Governor's Arts Executive of the Year" by Governor Bill Haslam in 2011.

Despite his significant accomplishments, Halloran cites working alongside the Orpheum family of Board Members, staff, and volunteers among his most prized memories.

"Over the last 35 years, I have had tremendous support from the community, our Board of Directors and our fabulous staff," said Halloran. "Sitting in the audience each year among our loyal supporters as they experience the magic of live theatre has been really gratifying. But seeing the wide, bright eyes of the young students coming into The Orpheum's Grand Lobby for the first time and watching as they marvel at our productions has truly been the most rewarding."

Halloran's retirement coincides with the completion and opening of The Orpheum Centre for Performing Arts & Education. Currently under construction, the new Centre will add significant economic and aesthetic value to Downtown Memphis, enhance The Orpheum's position as a well-respected national venue and, most importantly, allow the Orpheum to expand its education programs and community services to be enjoyed and revered for generations to come.

"I think the time is right for a change. Things are in great order for the near future, so the new person will have time to lend his or her leadership style and creativity towards making the Orpheum Campus even more exciting," said Halloran. "I look forward to the completion of the Centre, the last and largest project during my 'tour of duty.' As I prepare to pass the torch, I am very proud of MDF's accomplishments and I look forward to what the future holds for both The Orpheum Theatre and the new Orpheum Centre."

Executive search firms are being interviewed by the Memphis Development Foundation Board of Directors at this time. Once hired, the firm will conduct a national search for Halloran's replacement and help with the development of a comprehensive job description.

Following his retirement, Halloran will continue to serve the Memphis Development Foundation in a consulting role. He will be moving to the new Centre to help through its initial stages of operation in the early part of 2016.

"We're thrilled that Pat is interested in helping us through the startup period for the new Centre," said Fields-Isaacman. "We know his vast experience will prove invaluable."

The Orpheum Theatre is currently accepting donations and has initiated a Brick Campaign in support of the Orpheum Centre for Performing Arts & Education. For more information, visit

Related Articles View More Memphis Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You

Before you go...

Never Miss a Story
Like Us On Facebook
Follow Us On Twitter
Follow Us On Instagram instagram