New Orleans — A $52 million renovation and the blockbuster musical “The Book of Mormon” will greet audiences this fall when the Saenger Theatre reopens, seven years after floods following Hurricane Katrina swamped the historic venue, officials announced Thursday.
The Broadway in New Orleans theater series announced its fall lineup Thursday, surrounded by scaffolding and caution tape in the lobby of the Saenger, 1111 Canal St. The series has had a temporary home at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts in Armstrong Park.
“The Book of Mormon” opens Oct. 15. With a new stage floor poured this week, and 100-foot-tall steel support pillars being erected next, the structure of the theater is almost complete, said David Anderson, CEO of Houston-based ACE Theatrical Group, which is managing and developing the theater.
The new stage is twice as long and taller than the original, Anderson said. The lobby will be adorned with more than two dozen chandeliers, original to the 1927 theater, discovered in a New Orleans antique shop, and original paint colors — more pastel and salmon — will brighten the interior, he said.
The approximately 18-month restoration is back on schedule after multiple delays, said Cynthia Connick, executive director of Canal Street Development Corp. The corporation stepped in with bridge financing when legislative inaction threatened tax credits in 2011 and private lenders halted work, aborting a planned 2012 season that instead opened at Mahalia Jackson.
The art deco theater will seat 2,600 people and host concerts and other events in addition to the Broadway in New Orleans series, sponsored by East Jefferson General Hospital.
The lineup of seven Broadway hits was chosen to highlight the reopened theater and appeal to every age group, said David Skinner, ACE general manager.
“We wanted to bring in the best shows we could find when we opened the Saenger,” he said. “None has been here before. They’re all very popular.”
After “The Book of Mormon,” Oct. 15-27, the theater will show “Ghost, the Musical,” Nov. 19-24; “Sister Act,” Dec. 17-22; Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” Feb. 4-9; “Memphis,’’ March 11-16 and “War Horse,’’ May 13-18. A two-day tribute to the Beatles called “Rain” plays Jan. 17-19.