Showing 6 comments
Why is this theatre not listed under the correct name? It is the “LOEW’S STATE” theatre. Not the silly “State Palace” as was invented by the operators after Loew’s discontinued operating the theatre in the late 70’s or early 80’s.
I attended the Jerry Seinfeld performance at the Saenger Saturday night. The theatre is very beautiful. I have been going there since the mid 1960’s and it is more spectacular than it has been in the last 50 years. The exterior is restored and the marquees replicate the 1927 originals nicely. The reinstallation of the lights and trellis on the rampart street side building is also very nice. The vertical sign on Canal Street has not yet been installed but renderings of the sign indicate that it will be a faithful replication of the 1927 original. The most outstanding part of the restoration is the new paint scheme by Evergreen Architectural Arts. The painting, leafing (Dutch metal), glazing and faux finishes are beautifully executed. I seriously doubt that all of the color selections are based on the 1927 originals, but the overall effect is totally in keeping with what one would expect to see in a movie palace. Details that had long been buried under decades of paint are now vividly delineated. The ceiling of the arcade has had its stenciling restored, and three replicated chandeliers illuminate this room. In the auditorium, there are more stars than ever before in the Saenger sky. The original house draperies, seating, and decorative lighting have all been lovingly restored. Awnings once again adorn the windows of this Florentine courtyard, trees and vines drape the upper parts of the courtyard walls as clouds drift overhead.
The only issues that I have with the restoration is that it is not finished. In the arcade, portions of the upper walls that originally had wall covering were blank white panels. The finishes on the lounge walls were not complete. Several light fixtures in the auditorium were not working. The soloist stage house left was not completely painted and the beveled mirror appeared to be missing. At the entrance to the second balcony, house right, a large plaster urn that had once graced the top of the wall was missing. Several pieces of plaster trellis that line the upper wall of the auditorium appear to have been cut off an not replaced. In fact, if you look closely you can see the inside of the end of the false trellis work where no attempt was even made to disguise the damage. Finally the profusion of oversized refreshment counters in the orchestra and mezzanine lobbies restricts pedestrian flow and generally diminishes the beautifully of the restored spaces.
With all of this to see, Jerry Seinfeld was a little superfluous.
The Saenger opens tonight. I have been following the renovation closely. From the photographs on the internet and the site visits that I have made, I believe that the finished product is spectacular and far beyond my expectations.
I’ve been hearing a lot of rurmors that more than one party is interested in buying the building. Rumor is that one of these suitors has the idea of converting the Loew’s into a bowling alley and music venue.
It appears that the New Orlens Downtown Development District, the quasi-public agency responsible for the the redevelopment of Canal Street, may be once again on the brink of dropping the ball (bowling ball?). One would think that with the situation involving the LaSalle Hotel, a property immediatly adjacent to the historic Saenger Theatre, the Development District would be working harder not to appear so very inept. The Saenger is undergoing a 50 million dollar historic restoration that is partially govenment funded. Along the way it was reported in the local paper that other developers have gotten partial govenment funding to turn the LaSalle Hotel into low income housing. What a debacle, low income housing immediatly adjacent to the crown jewel of New Orleans theatres. That ought to pack-em into the theatre!
Now we hear of the Loew’s State situation. Is a bowling alley really appropriate in a Thomas Lamb theater from 1926? This building is in very workable condition an should be returned to commerce as some type of theatrical venue. A bowling alley in this building would not only be disgraceful but an awful addition to the 1100 block of Canal Street – bowling alley, a low income housing development, and the historic Saenger Theatre. If the City is really commited to creating a theatre district utilizing the the existing historic theatres in this two block area they are certainly making a mess of it.
Work began on restorig the Saenger in January. Since the renovation was announced, the budget has increased to over $50 million. The 1950’s marquee and other exteriotr signs have been removed. The stagehouse is currently being dismantled to make way for a new, state of the art, enlarged stage.
The tax credits have been extended and signed into law by the Govenor. The developers are finalizing their financing. Work should begin in the fall