NEW ORLEANS, LA – Today, Mayor Landrieu, City officials, Canal Street Development Corporation, and representatives of ACE Theatrical Group celebrated the reopening of the historic Saenger Theatre at 1111 Canal Street following a $52 million restoration. Built in 1927 by noted New Orleans architect Emile Weil, the Saenger Theatre is a remarkable example of Italian Renaissance architecture and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building was significantly damaged by Hurricane Katrina and has since been the focus of complex redevelopment through a public-private partnership between the City of New Orleans, Canal Street Development Corporation, and ACE Theatrical Group.
“The Saenger Theatre is once again the crown jewel of Canal Street and its rebirth is a significant moment in New Orleans’ continuing recovery from Hurricane Katrina,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. “This newly restored, iconic stage house is both essential to our cultural identity and serves as a symbol of how we are building back better than before. Combined with new state-of-the-art features and the authentic restoration to its original 1927 design, the new Saenger Theatre will redefine the live entertainment marketplace in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region. Audiences will be as amazed by the fully restored theatre’s fine attention to detail as they are to the world class acts it will attract.”
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Watch video from today's ceremony
“Today marks a new chapter in the New Orleans entertainment marketplace,” said David Anderson, President and CEO of ACE Theatrical Group. “We are proud to introduce the authentically-restored Saenger with state-of-the-art technology and first-class amenities that will provide a place for families and visitors to attend performances they will never forget. Our partnership with the City of New Orleans has been a key factor in successfully restoring this iconic landmark and should be used as a model for theatres around the country.”
“The renovation of the historic Saenger Theatre is a significant moment in the continued revitalization of the Canal Street corridor,” said David Rubenstein, Chairman of the Canal Street Development Corporation. “In partnership with the City of New Orleans and ACE Theatrical Group, we have fully restored this cherished landmark that will once again serve as an important anchor that will spur growth and redevelopment along Canal Street and beyond.”
The Saenger Theatre has been meticulously restored to its original, 1927 grandeur with historically replicated carpet, original and replicated chandeliers, and a historically accurate paint scheme. Modern technical upgrades, including new fiber optic stars in the auditorium and expanded restroom and concession facilities make the theatre a state-of-the-art live entertainment venue. Years of paint and veneer have been stripped away inside the theatre and the original color palette has been restored. Architects have worked to recreate the theatre’s original interior look and feel, including the decorative elements and ornamentation, windows and doors, light fixtures and poster boxes. The stage house has been expanded, allowing for larger productions and a wide range of programs. The Saenger Theatre reopens with a seating capacity of approximately 2,600. The restoration was led by renowned architecture firm Martinez + Johnson of Washington, DC and construction was performed by Broadmoor Construction of Metairie, LA.
City Council President Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson said, “Since childhood with my grandmother to taking my own grandchildren there, the Saenger Theatre has been a family and city favorite! Its diverse shows of quality entertainment are much welcomed back to Canal Street.”
Councilmember-at-Large Stacy Head said, “Every project is important as we continue to rebuild our city. The Saenger Theatre project, however, is special. It is, perhaps, the most anticipated post-Katrina redevelopment project—one that as an At-Large Councilmember, I am asked about often. So many memories have been made here, by locals and visitors alike. It is a piece of our history, a critical component to our arts-based economy, and a major piece of our cultural fabric. I am so pleased to be a part of the celebration of the reopening of this iconic theatre, and to welcome back Broadway to Canal Street! Many thanks to Mayor Landrieu’s administration, the Canal Street Development Corporation, ACE Theatrical Group, the Downtown Development District, and many others who have worked for many years to bring back the Saenger.”
District A Councilmember Susan Guidry said, “The citizens of New Orleans have been anticipating this moment for eight years. Restoration of the majestic Saenger Theatre – one of the City’s most cherished landmarks – means that our residents and visitors, both young and old, will once again be able to enjoy the rich mix of top-notch live entertainment for which this historic venue has always been known.”
District B Councilmember LaToya Cantrell said, “It’s great to have the marquee of the historic Saenger Theatre lit again after more than 8 years of an empty stage. It is a testament to the dedication of the citizens of New Orleans who are revitalizing our city and continue to invest in our great artistic community and culture.”
District C Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer said, “The grand reopening of the Saenger Theatre is a much anticipated event that will further the progress of Canal Street and the Theatre District. It also provides job opportunities for residents and members of the arts and cultural community.”
District D Councilmember Cynthia Hedge-Morrell said, “The Saenger Theatre’s reopening is another exciting sign of New Orleans’ prominence as an event and entertainment center. This will allow us to host more and bigger productions, and I look forward to the shows!”
District E Councilmember James A. Gray II said, “In 1927, the newly built Saenger Theatre made Canal Street the heart of city’s art and entertainment scene and drew thousands of people to downtown New Orleans to experience the city’s culture and cuisine. Some 86 years later, we expect the restoration of the Saenger Theatre to work the same magic: draw thousands of people to downtown New Orleans, making Canal Street once again the epicenter of New Orleans’ thriving arts and entertainment scene.”
The Saenger Theatre Renewal Project could not have occurred without the financial support from the following institutions: Chevron TCI, Inc.; JPMorgan Chase Bank, NA; Liberty Bank and Trust Company; National Trust Community Investment Corporation; State of Louisiana, Office of Community Development; Stonehenge Capital Company, LLC; Tax Credit Capital, LLC; and Whitney Bank.
Cindy Connick, Executive Director of the Canal Street Development Corporation said, “So many played a major role in redeveloping the Saenger Theatre. This project has been a labor of love and if not for the hard work of so many, we would not be here today. This project was truly a public-private partnership.”
Kristy H. Nichols, Commissioner of Administration for the State of Louisiana said, “The return of the Saenger Theatre is another historic moment in the life of the City of New Orleans. Once again this theatre will become a destination for people from all over the world to experience the passion and resilience of this great city. Today marks yet another milestone in the renewal of New Orleans, and the state of Louisiana is honored to have contributed more than $15 Million toward the restoration of this remarkable place.”
John Kallenborn, President of Chase in Louisiana said, "Chase is proud to invest $8 million in New Markets Tax Credits to help restore this cultural gem in the heart of our city. The reopening of this historic landmark is an important achievement in the cultural and economic renaissance of New Orleans."
Alden J. McDonald, Jr., President and CEO of Liberty Bank and Trust said, "We are excited about the reopening of the Saenger Theatre. The Saenger Theatre is an important part of the New Orleans community, both historically and culturally and Liberty Bank is happy to have played a role in bringing it back.”
The Saenger Theatre will now be home to a spectacular lineup of live entertainment, opening with comedian Jerry Seinfeld. The Saenger Theatre Grand Opening Gala Concert with Kristin Chenoweth and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra will be Saturday, October 5, 2013. This fall, the theatre will also host the sensational East Jefferson General Hospital Broadway in New Orleans 2013-2014 season, showcasing the best of Broadway, including The Book of Mormon, Ghost the Musical, Sister Act, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Memphis, War Horse and Rain. For more information on the Saenger Theatre, including all performance and ticketing information, visit www.saengernola.com.
Lauren Reid, President of Broadway Across America said, “We could not be more excited about the reopening of the historic Saenger Theatre. This beautifully restored theatre with a state-of-the-art stage house rivals the best theatres on Broadway; New Orleans will now be a destination for Broadway’s best and brightest. Broadway Across America is proud to partner with ACE Theatrical and the City of New Orleans to bring you the finest that Broadway has to offer.”
David Skinner, General Manager of the Saenger Theatre said, “We have been looking forward to this day for quite some time and the outcome is even better than we expected. Our mission at the Saenger is to redefine the live entertainment marketplace in New Orleans and we are thrilled that our doors are open and we can begin serving our community by providing entertainment for everyone.”
Originally built in 1927, the Saenger Theatre was designed to reflect a magnificent 15th century Italian courtyard and gardens, with a starlit evening sky ceiling, arched surroundings, statuary, columns and decorative moldings. In January 2012, the City of New Orleans, Canal Street Development Corporation (CSDC) and ACE Theatrical Group formed a public-private partnership to carry out a $52 million restoration project after the iconic theatre was severely damaged during Hurricane Katrina. The Saenger Theatre will reopen in fall 2013, authentically restored to the finest level of detail, with state-of-the-art technological improvements and updated first-class amenities. The theatre will host a wide variety of performing arts attractions including live theatre, comedy shows and musical acts. The Saenger Theatre is located at the corner of Canal and North Rampart streets in downtown New Orleans and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Visit www.saengernola.com for more information.
Canal Street Development Corporation
In 1989, the former D. H. Holmes department store, parking garage and storage facilities were offered as a donation by the Dillard family to the City of New Orleans. With a tremendous opportunity to reshape one of the most important areas of the city, the Canal Street Development Corporation was formed as a public benefit corporation to accept the donation consisting of nearly two square blocks bounded by Canal, Dauphine, Bienville and Bourbon Streets. That property portfolio consists of a soon to be Hyatt Hotel, apartments, parking garage and a number of restaurants. The Canal Street Development Corporation has also partnered with ACE Theatrical Group to restore and expand the historic arts venue.
ACE Theatrical Group
ACE Theatrical Group, LLC is a theatrical management and development company formed by entertainment industry veterans specializing in the design, development, construction and operation of first class, live performance venues throughout North America. The company has a long history of working with municipalities, non-profit agencies and community groups to develop spectacular performance facilities with state-of-the-art improvements emphasizing patron comfort and artist’s technical needs.
ACE Theatrical Group is based in Houston, TX, with offices in New York, San Antonio and New Orleans. The principals have over 175 years combined experience and collectively have development and management credits in 35 theatrical venues in the United States and Canada, with 20 of those also including the design and construction of those projects. Visit www.acetheatricalgroup.com for more information.