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The City of New Orleans

Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu

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Broadway returns to historic Saenger Theatre

March 21, 2013

NEW ORLEANS – The City of New Orleans, Canal Street Development Corporation (CSDC) and Houston-based ACE Theatrical Group are pleased to announce the renovation of the city’s iconic downtown Saenger Theatre is well underway and on schedule for a fall 2013 opening.  Following the estimated $52 million restoration project, the historic theatre will host the 2013-2014 Broadway in New Orleans series.

Watch press conference announcing Broadway's return to the Saenger Theatre 

A spectacular example of Italian Renaissance architecture, Saenger Theatre was built in 1927 at the corner of Canal and North Rampart streets in downtown New Orleans, LA, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The building was damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and has since been the focus of a complex redevelopment project.

View pictures of the restoration progress

“We are working vigorously to ensure our patrons’ experience in the newly re-opened Saenger is even better than they remember,” said David Skinner, General Manager, ACE Theatrical Group. “The theatre is now undergoing top-to-bottom renovation emphasizing an authentic, historic restoration. The progress that has been made is tremendous, and we’re looking forward to the completion in the next six months.”

Responsible for the overall design is Martinez + Johnson architecture firm, based in Washington, D. C.  In the last two decades, the architectural group has been recognized for restoring landmark facilities, including the Boston Opera House. The project’s general contractor, overseeing construction and renovation, is Broadmoor Construction of Metairie, Louisiana. 

Years of paint and veneer are being stripped away inside the theatre and the original color palette is being restored. Architects are working 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 stagehouse is also being expanded, allowing for larger productions and a wide range of programs. 

The Saenger Theatre will reopen with a seating capacity of approximately 2,600, in turn doubling the number of available performance dates in the New Orleans theatre marketplace. From concerts to the East Jefferson General Hospital Broadway in New Orleans series, which will transfer from the Mahalia Jackson Theater, the Saenger Theatre will once again be home to notable stars and performing arts attractions.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu said, “The restoration of the Saenger will create tens of millions in annual economic impact for our economy and will anchor the continued revitalization of Canal Street, a key commercial and arts corridor for our city.”

The sensational East Jefferson General Hospital Broadway in New Orleans 2013-2014 season will showcase 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.

Originally, Saenger Theatre was designed by architect Emile Weil, and cost over $2.5 million to complete. The movie palace was the flagship of the vaunted Saenger Theatre chain throughout the south, seating nearly 4,000 patrons.  Over the years, the Saenger Theatre was New Orleans’ premier movie theatre, hosting first run releases of every major motion picture in the nation.  Then, with the advent of suburban multiplex movie theaters, attendance dwindled at the venerable palace, which fell on hard times, eventually ceasing operations in 1978.

In 1981, the Saenger Theatre underwent its first major renovation and conversion into a multi-purpose performing arts facility.  The Saenger Performing Arts Center became host to touring Broadway performances, along with major headlining musical, comedic and performing arts attractions, until damages from Hurricane Katrina caused the theater to close once again.

“The Saenger is a symbol of New Orleans not just rebuilding but coming back better than before,” said Cynthia Connick, Executive Director of CSDC.  “This project is the product of a true public-private partnership.”

About 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.

About 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 for more information. 

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Last updated: 5/18/2016 2:22:46 PM

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