Andrew Weeks

A colleague and I had the recent privilege of spending some time in Twin Falls' oldest operating theatre with its general manager discussing the buildings fascinating history and current state of unexplained activeness.

Andrew Weeks from our news station KLIX joined me last Tuesday (October 30) at a scheduled meeting with the Orpheum Theatre's General Manager Jared Johnson. Johnson has been in charge of operations since 2014, and admitted he spends more time in the building than anyone else.

Construction on the Orpheum began in 1919, and was completed in 1920. It originally could seat 900. The theatre now operates at a 465 seat capacity. Johnson said the building survived a fire close to the 1940s, that started in the building's old candy shop.

Johnson is an admitted "theatre geek," and received a music degree from Idaho State University. He also studied theater in Kansas City, prior to accepting the position at the Orpheum. Johnson also teaches vocal coaching aside from running the theatre. He also performed for Jump Company in Twin Falls, and still works with the group from time to time.

Here is a photo of Johnson (below) in the theatre's control room, which used to be a sealed, concrete space, due to the dangers of fire from nitrate film usage decades ago. The Orpheum used to operate a ground floor projection system.

 

Below is the original Orpheum sign made around 1905. It hangs on brick, at the back of the stage.

Johnson admitted he has never seen or experienced anything he considers paranormal.

"I must be dead to it all," he stated. "We can neither confirm, nor deny, that the Orpheum is haunted."

He then told us that the staff has had many claims of unexplained goings on throughout the years. He described them as the "Four distinct hauntings." None of the sightings have ever been of a malicious nature, according to Johnson.

First Reported Haunting: An older, tall, bald, caucasian man is seen periodically pacing in this (below) area toward the back of the stage. He appears stressed, and often checks his pocket watch, according to sightings. He is always seen wearing a blue suit.

Photo: From the stage looking out on the lower level. (below)

Old markings and words can still be seen in the brickwork throughout the theatre from actors that inhabited the building decades ago.

Photos from the back of the stage. (below)

The two photographs below are of the only remaining two original seats. They are about 100 years old.

Photo: Upper level hallway. (below)

Photo: Jared escorts us as we head up to the balcony level. (below)

Second Reported Sighting: The below photograph is of a lower level area referred to as "The Hobbit Door" by actors. It can be found near the dressing rooms. And yes, of course I went in. A little girl, approximately 8-years-old, can be heard running, and sometimes whistling, near this area located beneath the stage.

"The little girl is our most active of the alleged haunts," said Johnson. "We get sometimes six to seven reports a week about this by staff and visitors. She's a sprinter."

Third Reported Sighting: The next series of photographs (below) were taken on the balcony level where the next unexplained sightings happen frequently. They are of the silhouette of an old lady. She sits in the balcony, near the right side (from the stage) and in the third or fourth row. She is most commonly seen during rehearsals.

 

The below photo is of the approximate area (row and seat) where the old lady is seen.

Photo: Lower level dressing room. One of three. (below)

Photo: A corner table located on the balcony level overlooking the stage, and just off from the mezzanine row. (below)

Greg Jannetta

Fourth Reported Sighting: The final reported sighting is of a man seen walking around the upper level windows of rooms that used to be occupied by actors. These rooms are currently not being rented out. The windows face out on to Main Avenue North.

The man has been seen by shop owners, motorists and those passing by on the sidewalk beneath. The police have even contacted Johnson about the sightings in the past.

We would like to thank Jared Johnson for his time.

The Orpheum has scheduled productions of "A Christmas Carol," "The Producers," and Stephen Sondheim's "Assassins," coming in the next weeks. For tickets or more information about the Orpheum Theatre, call 208-595-2600.