The Saenger Theatre opened its doors today for the first time since Hurricane Katrina closed the Canal Street landmark in 2005. Under new twinkling fiber optic ceiling stars — part of a $52 million renovation — Mayor Mitch Landrieu proclaimed the project a symbol “of resurrection, redemption, resilience, of building the city not back the way she was but the way she should have always been.”
The Saenger was built in 1927 and the team of public-private entities responsible for its renovation, including the Canal Street Development Corporation, Ace Theatrical Group and the City of New Orleans, restored the building to reflect the original, with modern accoutrements like an expanded stage. The inside is complete with the dashing red carpet reminiscent of the original, and everything from the chandeliers to the paint scheme was researched for historical accuracy and constructed to reflect the building’s original interior. “All of the work that you see here is a reincarnation of the original designs and the original paintings,” Landrieu said.
The Saenger will host a slew of Broadway shows, musical, comedic and stage acts, including a grand opening performance by Kristin Chenoweth and the Louisiana Philharmonic Oct. 5. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld performs three shows during this weekend’s soft opening. New Orleans is the third largest producer of Hollywood films, behind New York and Los Angeles, thanks to film credits offered by the state and will have an originating tax credit for Broadway productions as well, Landrieu said, “because, in order for this thing to work, these seats have to be full, and the productions have to be great.”
Broadway Across America President Lauren Reid said “New Orleans will now be a destination for Broadway’s best and brightest.”
Though the opening is one of the most anticipated post-Katrina rebuilding efforts and a linchpin of the Canal Street corridor rehabilitation, Landrieu said “there’s other stuff going on. This is not the only thing that’s happening as you think about what is occurring just in this general space, in these two square miles. You have the VA and UMC hospitals, $2 million coming out of the ground as we speak.”
New Orleans City Council President Jackie Clarkson was in the Saenger for her fifth birthday, before World War II. “Thanks for the memories,” she said. “Many a tale has been woven in this edifice.”
After dozens of stakeholders squeezed behind a gold ribbon for a photo-op, the curtains of the Saenger opened to display its historic SAENGER letters, lighted and floating on the newly revealed stage. “You have this before you today,” Landrieu said. “It’s a gift to the people of the city of New Orleans.”
Came home from the grocery store this pm to a passed out waiter on my front lawn. Took my daughter and I 45 mins. to figure out who he was.— Mary B. Sonnier (@ChefMarySonnier) June 29, 2013
First it giveth, then it taketh away. Newspapers are dead and buried then return to a daily schedule. New Orleans Pelicans come and go within minutes. Prison donuts are a thing and likely will not be anymore. The right and left react to landmark decisions in Texas and D.C. A $100 brunch institution shuffles off this mortal coil. Service industry employees slumber in unusual ways. Governors — do they poop?
In this week's delayed edition of Y@ Speak (not what you expected, right?), New Orleans examines what is real, or really real, and whether they're, you know, cool about it. If not, one can always seek refuge in Target on the West Bank, where the celebrities go.
The Contemporary Arts Center opens an exhibit focusing on the film Beasts of the Southern Wild, other earlier movies by Court 13 artists and art installations by Eliza Zeitlin, younger sister of Beasts writer/director Benh Zeitlin. Many of the buildings and props in the film were created by Eliza, and she's been active in local art installations, including the Music Box.
Beyond "Beasts": The Art of Court 13 opens Friday with a reception and party featuring a reading by Beasts cowriter Lucy Alibar and music by the Lost Bayou Ramblers. Video installations include unseen footage from the film, behind the scenes footage and earlier Court 13 films. More on that here. (The teaser above was released by Fox Searchlight Pictures seven months ago and is not included in the exhibit.)
Tonight, Benh Zeitlin and Beasts and Court 13 filmmakers will screen other footage and discuss the film at the CAC's ArtSpeak at 7 p.m. Seating is limited.
Quentin Tarantino's latest, the bloody spaghetti Western meets blaxploitation epic Django Unchained, has not aired without controversy, as per Tarantino tradition. Some critics have railed against the film, which was shot in Louisiana, for its use of the "N" word and graphic depictions of gore and explosive violence against blacks.
Django has stacked up zillions of dollars from the box office, earned five Golden Globe nominations, and grabbed Academy Award nominations for best picture, best supporting actor, best original screenplay, and sound editing. (Read Ken Korman's review in Gambit.)
As Tarantino did for his previous violent revenge-fantasy Inglorious Basterds, The National Entertainment Collectibles Association and film studio The Weinstein Company have partnered to release eight-inch figurines of characters from the film, including Jamie Foxx's protagonist Django, Leonardo Di Caprio's slave owner Calvin Candie and Samuel L. Jackson's terrifying Stephen.
The New Orleans Police Department often sends out press releases with surveillance footage, but somebody at NOPD got creative with this one, featuring a ne'er-do-well swiping a laptop in the Faubourg Marigny. Check it out:
Bad boys, bad boys. Whatcha gonna do?
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