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Will Coviello on New Orleans Downtown Theaters 

click to enlarge Missionaries seek converts 
in The Book 
of Mormon.

Missionaries seek converts in The Book of Mormon.

The Saenger Theatre reopens this week for the first time since Hurricane Katrina with standup comedy concerts by Jerry Seinfeld (Sept. 27-28). The theater's fall schedule is packed with marquee names and shows, including Diana Ross, Bonnie Raitt, Kristin Chenoweth, D.L. Hughley and the touring production of the Broadway smash The Book of Mormon. Those events add to an array of entertainment options at downtown theaters this fall.

  Just outside the French Quarter, there's a hub of renovated theaters. The Saenger underwent a $52 million renovation and expansion of its backstage facilities. The Civic Theatre opened its season with a concert by Empire of the Sun Sept. 19, and The Joy Theater, which reopened in December 2011 with a series of concerts, is presenting a slate of shows and concerts this fall.

  The Broadway in New Orleans series returns to the Saenger (, its home before Katrina. In recent years, shows were presented at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts, which along with the Saenger is managed by Ace Theatrical Group. The season opens with The Book of Mormon (Oct. 15-27), followed by Ghost: The Musical (Nov. 19-24), adapted from the Oscar-winning film, and Sister Act (Dec. 17-22). In 2014, the season continues with Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles (Jan. 17-19), Disney's Beauty and the Beast (Feb. 4-9), Memphis (March 11-16), about a club singer looking for a big break, and War Horse (May 13-18), about a boy who sets out to recover a horse sold to the British cavalry at the onset of World War I.

  The Mahalia ( remains home to New Orleans Opera Association productions (The Vampire, Oct. 11 & 13), New Orleans Ballet Association presentations (Scottish Ballet's A Streetcar Named Desire, Oct. 4) and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra.

  The Civic Theatre's schedule is dominated by concerts, and this week Russell Brand (Sept. 27) performs. Upcoming acts include the Robert Cray Band (Oct. 13) and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (Oct. 14). Comedy bookings include Bo Burnham (Oct. 12) and filmmaker John Waters' Christmas show (Dec. 10).

  Highlights on The Joy Theater's ( schedule include comedian Dena Blizzard's one woman show One Crazy Mother: I'm Not Crazy! (Oct. 10-20), the interactive show Tony n' Tina's Wedding (Oct. 29-Nov. 3) and a holiday show by Lightwire Theater, the local troupe that reached the finals of America's Got Talent: Lightwire: A Very Electric Christmas (Dec. 12-22).

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