Renewal of Downtown Theater Industry brings “Joy” to Canal Street. As 2011 came to a close, the New Orleans’ entertainment circuit gained an exciting addition with the reopening of the Joy Theater, located at 1200 Canal Street. Its history as a popular movie theater, opening in 1947 with the screening of “Lover Come Back” starring Lucille Ball, ended in 2003, facing competition from multiplex cinemas and suffering damaging flooding during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The $5 million renovations to the theater have kept close to the original exterior plans and include state of the art sound and light systems, as well as wider seats and elevators. The new Joy is a multi-purpose venue available for concerts, theatre arts, private events, and move screenings, and kicked off with an electrifying performance from the “Soul Queen of New Orleans” herself, Irma Thomas, on December 29. The New Year’s Eve celebration featured local favorite Kermit Ruffins and the Barbeque Swingers.
In related news, plans for the reconstruction of the Saenger Theatre on Canal Street have been announced following financial approval. Construction will begin in the New Year, with plans to reopen in 2013 as a venue for touring Broadway productions, dance, and music. All of this good news points to a coming revitalization of the former downtown theater district where aesthetics and décor pay homage to the heyday of these historic buildings and the picture show culture of the past!
Those interested in the historical plight of New Orleans’ theaters like the Joy and the Saenger should check out a 2004 documentary titled “No More Joy,” which chronicles the rise and fall of these local movie palaces throughout the twentieth century. More information on the new Joy Theater, including a list of upcoming events, is available online at www.thejoytheater.com.