A city that has nurtured a centuries-long relationship with its creative muse is bound to have a vibrant performing arts scene. So stages formal and informal throughout New Orleans regularly serve up both traditional and cutting-edge programs featuring high-quality dramatic and musical talent.
Here is a look at some of the offerings on tap during the upcoming performance season. Be sure to check the venue websites for additional program listings and updated schedule details.
Drama, Musicals & Comedy
Saenger Theatre. The long-awaited restoration of this beautiful downtown landmark is almost complete, and the venue known as the South’s grandest theater has announced a splashy re-opening lineup of music, comedy, Broadway shows and more. The season includes three shows with Jerry Seinfeld (Sept. 27-28); opening gala featuring Kristin Chenoweth (Oct. 5); A Prairie Home Companion starring Garrison Keillor (Oct. 12); The Book of Mormon (Oct. 15-27); Diana Ross in concert (Oct. 30); political pundit Bill Maher (Nov. 16); Ghost, the Musical (Nov. 19-24); blues guitar legend Joe Bonamassa (Nov. 26); and holiday performances by The Irish Tenors (Dec. 3) and Moscow Ballet (Dec. 26).
Hot ticket: Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra perform the Abyssinian Mass on Oct. 13.
Saenger Theatre, 1111 Canal St., 287-0351, SaengerNola.com
Southern Repertory Theatre. New Orleans’ stalwart professional repertory theater presents original works and plays of high artistic quality that reflect the diversity of New Orleans. Producing Artistic Director Aimée Hayes promises abundant “passion, politics, sex and satire” this season as Southern Rep takes its show on the road, making stops on several stages around the city. The fall lineup of plays includes 33 Variations and Pride and Prejudice; a Tennessee Williams favorite, The Night of the Iguana, is slated in the spring.
Hot ticket: Southern Rep will bring the world premiere of the comedy, The Totalitarians, to a local stage in early 2014. Check the website for dates, times and locations for all productions.
Southern Repertory Theatre, 522-6545, SouthernRep.com
Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré. The city’s oldest stage returns after an extensive renovation with a diverse lineup just off Jackson Square in the French Quarter. On tap are: Hair, the ultimate rock musical (Nov. 8-23); Golda’s Balcony, the amazing story of Golda Meir (Jan. 24-Feb. 8); and Death of a Salesman, the famous play by Arthur Miller (May 9-24).
Hot ticket: An unlikely subject for the stage soars to unexpected heights in Lombardi, a look at the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers (Sept. 6-21).
Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré, 616 St. Peter St., 522-2081, LePetitTheatre.com
Mid-City Theatre. In the heart of a vibrant neighborhood, this theater is fast becoming a hub for live stage entertainment including original drama, musical comedy and cabaret. Free parking is icing on the cake. The lineup includes Debauchery, the Soap Opera (Aug. 14); 6X6, six original plays by regional authors (Aug. 28).
Hot ticket: The Golden Girls, the latest wacky take-off from Varla Jean Merman, Ricky Graham, Brian Peterson and Jack Long (Dec. 27-Jan. 12).
Mid-City Theatre, 3540 Toulouse St., 488-1460, MidCityTheatre.com
Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts. Top talents Gary Rucker and Kelly Fouchi have brought new life and high-powered entertainment to the stages of this riverside venue in Kenner. The new season includes 42nd Street (Sept. 13-28); Harvey (Nov. 1-16); and Annie (Dec. 6-22).
Hot ticket: Under the Boardwalk, featuring hits from The Four Seasons, The Beach Boys and Motown, directed by Rich Arnold (Jan. 10-25).
Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts, 325 Minor St., Kenner, 468-7221, RivertownTheaters.com
Jefferson Performing Arts Society. This organization offers high-quality drama and musical theater, guided by Artistic Director Dennis Assaf. Coming this season: I Didn’t Know That! (Sept. 12-15), a lighthearted revue of oddities from the Guinness Book of World Records; Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Oct. 18-Nov. 3); and Murder at Café Noir (Jan. 24-Feb. 9).
Check the website for dates, times and locations of all productions.
Hot ticket: Blueberry Hill (Sept. 20-Oct. 6), a homegrown jukebox musical by Butch Caire featuring the songs of Fats Domino, Irma Thomas, Ernie K-Doe and others.
Jefferson Performing Arts Center, 885-2000, Jpas.org
Anthony Bean Community Theater. The development of young talent is a priority of Artistic Director Anthony Bean, who pairs novices and professional actors in productions aimed to enlighten as they entertain. Coming up is August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Sept. 6-29) and Black Nativity, a Christmas gospel musical written by Langston Hughes (Dec. 6-22).
Hot ticket: You Don’t Even Know Me, an original hip-hop musical drama written and directed by Anthony Bean (Nov. 1-24).
Anthony Bean Community Theater, 1333 S. Carrollton Ave., 862-7529, AnthonyBeanTheater.com
Stage Door Canteen. A popular feature of the National World War II Museum, this stage offers both war-era entertainment and contemporary fare. Coming up are Big Band Hits of the 1930s and ’40s (Aug. 10, 17, 24, Sept. 7, 14); and Spirit of America, presented by the Victory Belles from the Great American Songbook (Wednesdays, Sept. 18-Oct. 16).
Hot ticket: Thanks for the Memories, a recreation of Bob Hope’s all-star Pacific entertainment tour (weekends, Sept. 20-Oct. 13).
Stage Door Canteen at the National World War II Museum, 945 Magazine St., 528-1943, NationalWW2Museum.org
The Joy Theatrical Series. A renovated historical landmark offers a new program series featuring popular and quirky productions. The schedule includes Beatlemania Now (Sept. 12-Oct. 6); Valentine’s Burlesque (Nov. 7-Dec. 1); and Lightwire: A Very Electric Christmas (Dec. 12-22).
Hot ticket: One Funny Mother – I’m Not Crazy! stars rising comedian Dena Blizzard in a hilarious look at an American woman’s daily life (Oct. 11-27).
The Joy Theater, 1200 Canal St., 528-9569, TheJoyTheater.com
Opera, Symphony, Ballet
Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. The 23rd season of the musician-managed orchestra brings a powerful lineup of compositions and soloists appearing in the orchestra’s classics series and special programs. Under the guidance of Music Director and Principal Conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto, the orchestra is at home at the Mahalia Jackson Theater, but also “tours” to suburban locations in Kenner, Lakeview and the Northshore. The dozens of performances slated for this season include Strauss’ Don Quixote (Sept. 28); Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, featuring pianist Benedetto Lupo (Oct. 24); a multimedia exploration of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde (Nov. 2) and a Britten centennial celebration featuring Karen Gomyo on violin.
Hot ticket: Chinese New Year performance of Stravinsky’s Fireworks, with Wu Man on pipa (Jan. 31).
Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts, 801 N. Rampart St., 523-6530, LpoMusic.com
New Orleans Ballet Association. Once again the association has planned a season of performances by some of the world’s most exciting dance companies and artists. Programs at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts and other venues include the Scottish Ballet’s A Streetcar Named Desire (Oct. 4); India Jazz Suites, featuring Chitresh Das and Jason Samuels Smith (Nov. 8-10); and The Joffrey Ballet (March 29).
Hot ticket: Diavolo Dance Theater performs to music by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (Jan. 25).
New Orleans Ballet Association, Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts, 801 N. Rampart St., 522-0996, NobaDance.com
New Orleans Opera Association. Grand compositions come alive in spectacular settings in the Mahalia Jackson Theater. Artistic Director Robert Lyall presents a season lineup that includes Marschner’s 19th-century masterpiece The Vampire (Oct. 11, 13); Britten’s Noah’s Flood (Nov. 15-17); and Puccini’s La Bohème (April 4, 6).
Hot ticket: Massenet’s Cinderella, sung in French with English supertitles (Feb. 14, 16).
New Orleans Opera Association, Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts, 801 N. Rampart St., 529-3000, NewOrleansOpera.org
Wait … There’s More!
A number of other theaters and producing companies offer top-notch presentations of classics and original works around the city. For details, check these websites:
Allways Lounge and Theater TheAllwaysLounge.com
ArtSpot Productions ArtSpotProductions.org
Cripple Creek Theatre Company CrippleCreekPlayers.org
The Elm Theatre ElmTheatre.org
Four Humours Theater FourHumoursTheater.org
Goat in the Road Productions GoatInTheRoadProductions.org
Mondo Bizarro MondoBizarro.org
New Noise NewNoise.org
The NOLA Project NolaProject.com
Skin Horse Theater SkinHorseTheater.org