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Orpheum president started as volunteer

Jennifer Wright started working as a volunteer at the Orpheum Theatre two years ago. Last week, she was named president of the historic theater.

"It's a wonderful fit for me," she said of her new job. "I love history, and I love the performing arts. The Orpheum Theatre represents both of those."

Wright was working as a paralegal when she started volunteering as a fundraiser at the Orpheum. She later became marketing assistant and marketing manager.

She took over as interim president when Mary Eves retired at the end of 2010.

Wright said she is optimistic about the future of the theater, which was closed for two decades and almost demolished twice.

"I think the Orpheum has risen from the ashes," she said. "In the last 10 years the Orpheum has experienced tremendous success and growth, but my goal is to take it to the next level.

"I know that it's going to be a lot of hard work, but I am committed to the success of this theater."

Over the years, she said, $4 million has been invested in restoring the theater, which was opened as a vaudeville house in 1922. She estimated that it would take $13 million to fully restore.

Harvey Sorensen, chairman of the Orpheum's board of directors, said the restoration is a top priority for the board. He said in a news release that he was confident that Wright would move the effort forward.

"Jennifer is committed to our vision of developing the Orpheum Theatre into a nationally recognized venue for performing arts and educational opportunities," he said.

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