By Alex Kudrna
What is going on at the Orpheum? What are the plans? Who is this kid?
Questions keep rolling in as I begin my journey of the Kenosha Orpheum Restoration. My name is Alex Kudrna, I purchased the Orpheum in June of 2016. I grew up in Kenosha and graduated from Bradford High School in 2011. The biggest question I get asked is Why this project so young? Well, I have always wanted to own a theater and a video production studio; with the Orpheum I have the best of both worlds having a multi-purpose space. I started my company Backyard Dream Studios, the name came from the very place I started my career, my backyard. I had built stages and put on performances for my family. I also had a video camera in my hand since I was 5, recording and creating stories for years. I graduated college with an Associates and Bachelors in Film and Business. I have partnered with Eisley Creative Co., a local video production company and recording studio.
What are the plans? Well being that that most of the space has been vacant for 16 years and other parts over 30 years. I have a long journey ahead to keep the space exactly the way it should be. First phase of the project includes renting out the 3 stories of commercial office (contact for more information on leased space), new elevator, new roof, and reopen the original 1920’s theater lobby. Theater lobby with include original carpet, chandeliers, paint, plasterwork and wallpaper. The first phase is to make sure the building is watertight and secured; it has sat for many years with water damage that has ruined 85% of original plasterwork. Phase two is restoring the original theater balcony that will become the 1920’s theater and the lower section with the stage will become the live performance venue/soundstage. Phase two is on a 2 – 3 year plan due to funding. With the theater lobby renovation the public will be allowed to come in, learn about the space and purchase items at the concessions stand. My hope is to have every guest walk out of the modern world and go back in time to experience the theater in its greatest glory. The lobby will be available for rental for parties, meetings, and other gatherings. As work progresses we will be looking for donations toward the renovation of the theater. The cost to fully renovate the theater is estimated at 4 million dollars. As a business owner of Downtown Kenosha I look forward to be apart of the community. Everything I do is in the best interest of the city and the citizens. I am striving to see the large smiles and wows from people as they walk thru the theater and go back in time. The theater lobby is scheduled to open in the spring of 2017. If you are looking to get involved or would like to make a donation feel free to contact me at anytime. To follow the restoration project, follow The Kenosha Orpheum on Facebook for the most up to date progress. If you have history, memories, or photos from the past we are looking for any information you may have.
The Kenosha Orpheum, 5819 Sixth Avenue, 262-902-2020