PLATTEVILLE, CT—Just three days after residents gathered in the city’s main square and emphatically vowed to save the historic Orpheum Theater from its scheduled demolition, sources confirmed Friday that the community of Platteville had lost all interest in the cause.
Local citizens, who reportedly took to the streets in protest when news broke that the 350-seat community theater would be replaced with a modern two-story shopping center, are said to have, over the subsequent 72 hours, taken stock of the considerable time, energy, and resources that would have to be devoted to preserving the 80-year-old theater, prompting most to quietly discontinue their efforts.
“As soon as I heard they were going to tear down the Orpheum, I joined the rally downtown and promised to do whatever I could to stop it—but then after thinking about it for a little bit, I guess it started to dawn on me what that would actually entail,” said local woman Eileen Pearlman, who noted that while she had initially volunteered to help organize an awareness and fundraising campaign, she backed out of it the following day when she realized the commitment would end up occupying many of her nights and weekends. “The town came up with some really great ideas for saving the theater, like starting a petition and holding a demonstration on the steps of city hall, but to be honest, we never really got past the planning phase on any of them.”
“Don’t get me wrong, the Orpheum’s a beautiful, classic building, and it needs our support,” Pearlman continued. “It’s just that this is all starting to look like a lot of work.”
While townsfolk confirmed that an ad hoc “Save the Orpheum” committee was promptly formed Tuesday morning following word that the theater was set to be razed, by that afternoon, sources said, such efforts were reportedly already showing signs of faltering, as many citizens’ eagerness began to give way to concerns that they needed to get back to their homes or places of work.
In particular, reports indicated that an attempt to have the Orpheum certified as a historical landmark reached a dead end after several volunteer coordinators discovered that securing the legal status required filling out quite a bit of paperwork, which sources said “looked pretty complicated.” Similarly, residents noted that an agreement to begin a mass newspaper letter-writing campaign had only resulted in the drafting of a single letter to the editor, which as of press time had yet to be mailed to the Platteville Herald.
According to sources, aside from making vocal statements such as, “This theater is part of our community” and, “It wouldn’t be Platteville without the Orpheum” three days earlier, the vast majority of townspeople had made no effort whatsoever to forestall the iconic building’s demise.
“After I heard the news, I started going door-to-door to convince my neighbors to come out to next week’s city council meeting, but that got tiring pretty quickly, especially when I realized how long it would take to reach everyone across the whole city,” 51-year-old resident Dennis Michelson said. “The Orpheum’s definitely an important part of our town; I used to see A Christmas Carol there every year with my family when I was a kid. Look, I’d love to pitch in and help save it, but to tell you the truth, I’ve got a lot going on with work right now and there’s a bunch of other stuff on my plate, so, you know.”
“I heard they were talking about getting a Kickstarter going, but I’m not sure what happened with that,” he continued.
Less than a half week after the community agreed to “keep the Orpheum standing for another 80 years,” sources reported that each of the major initiatives to accomplish this goal—including a neighborhood-wide rummage sale, a march on the property developer’s headquarters, and an effort to have regular community members star in one last production at the theater to raise money—had yet to progress past even the most preliminary stages, and in most cases had not been elaborated on in any detail at all.
Municipal sources confirmed that, with not a single “Our Orpheum” T-shirt manufactured nor a design even settled on, the playhouse’s demolition would likely go through as planned later this month.
“That theater’s been around for generations, and I want my kids to grow up with it just like I did, but honestly, what can I actually do to help? Nothing really, when you think about it,” said local business owner Alex Simmons, who admitted to reporters that, while the theater’s had a great run, he couldn’t remember the last time he actually set foot in the building. “The Orpheum is a downtown icon, no question. But the thing is, we already have a nice movie theater, and no one really goes to plays all that much anymore anyway. And to be honest, having some new stores and restaurants could be kind of nice.”
“I guess, when you stop and really look at it, it’s kind of a run-down old building anyway,” he added. “In fact, this development might be just what this city needs. Yeah, you know, I can get behind that.”