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The Emperor's Clothes Could at Least Use a Shot of Febreeze

Okay, let's be clear: we heart Downtown. Love the burgeoning street life, Gallery Urbis Orbis, Kitchen K, City Grocers, the Century Building (RIP), Cardinals game days and so on and so on, shobee doobee doo.

But we've got to put the brakes on our enthusiasm a little bit for the latest project, the Roberts Orpheum Theater (nee Orpheum Theater, then American Theater, before reverting to maiden name.) At Wednesday's grand opening and ribbon cutting -- featuring all the usual suspects, including freshly re-elected mayor Francis Slay, the ebullient brothers Roberts, PR handler and clock-watcher Gentry Trotter, prince of parking Steve Stogel, the Rep's Steve Woolf (checking out the competition?), SLDC's Rodney Crim, planning dreamboat Rollin Stanley, alderwoman-for-life Dorothy Kirner, Entertainment St. Louis' Mike Kociela and about 100 others -- we were primed to gush. But except for some areas of new carpet, we weren't sure where the millions on renovation had been spent.

Crumbly plaster, peeling paint, missing lightbulbs, tarnished brass, broken step nosing, dusty curtains...all in a place that hosts its first show Sunday (the Backstreet Boys). Even the basics, things that don't cost a dime, weren't done: the carpets hadn't been vaccummed, the wooden stage floor looked to have not been swept, the windows were dingy. Granted, the place itself is pretty amazing, with architectural details worth noting all around. But we want to be blown away, proud to take out-of-town friends there, and it still looks like faded glory.

In a Post-Dispatch article a mere one month ago, Kevin Johnson wrote, "As for the renovations, the managers promise that the 1,400-seat venue will be upscale and beautiful..."

Sounds like they've got a long weekend ahead of them.

Posted under Business District by Amanda Doyle on Wed., Apr 6, 2005 at 11:16 PM


Any chance of showing movies, or will it be strictly a live performance hall?

When we first moved to St. Louis, we were looking for something to do and there was a stage performance going on at the American, I believe called "Legends". Carol Channing and one other older female performer were the star performers.

When we called about tickets, the ticket office person mentioned to us how they had lots of "free tickets", and no one was asking for them.

So we thought, "well that makes it an easy decision; let's go". We arrived, asked for the free tickets, got four of them, and entered the theater.

When the usher was taking us to the upper-upper section of the balcony set aside for the free tickets, he stopped and said, "well, we can do better than this". He turned around, led us down into better seating, and invited us to enjoy the show.

We were blown away. That was the beginning of our love affair with St. Louis.

Since that time, the stories are too many to remember, often involving free tickets, strangers handing us their tix to events, strangers giving you their pocket change for a meter, to the point of routine. The daily friendliness of St. Louisans.

Have the Robertses considered the possibility of maintaining the St. Louis tradition of offering a percentage of seats for free admissions?


[Posted by rick on Thu., Apr 7, 2005 at 8:55 AM]

Please don't make me laugh! The Roberts boys don't believe in improving the properties they slap their names on; they seem to just open the doors and expect the money to roll in. Have you ever had the misfortune of going into the Sears bldg? It's filthy, the escalators don't work, the bathrooms are locked, lights are out--except for the floor the Roberts brothers occupy, which looks like the Taj Mahal. The Roberts Mayfair has the same problems, only with bad service, worse food, and no attention to the cleanliness of the place. Don't expect any free seats from these guys, only overpriced entertainment.

[Posted by starchild on Mon., Apr 11, 2005 at 1:42 PM]

Aren't the Roberts brothers doing the loft conversion of the old Board of Education building?

From the looks of it, it appears to be a very substantial and quality project.


[Posted by rick on Mon., Apr 11, 2005 at 4:04 PM]

The Roberts Mayfair is similarly shabby. Methinks they don't hold their clientele in very high regard.

But the Rolls out front always looks perfect.

[Posted by Greg on Wed., Apr 13, 2005 at 10:59 AM]

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