Broadway by Way of Canal Street
New musical theater options at the Saenger for the 2019-2020 season
For most Americans, the first time we see a musical is on a television screen. Maybe it is a classic like “Singing in the Rain,” or maybe it is one of the new Disney live action versions of an animated favorite, but rarely do most of us get the chance to see a musical performed on the stage. When we’re a bit older, say 12 or so, perhaps we see our local high school’s production of “Once Upon a Mattress.” Yet we dream of professional production values and singing voices that aren’t still going through puberty.
Enter, stage left, touring productions of Broadway musicals. Like the traveling vaudeville shows of the early twentieth century, these performances bring talent and artistry to cities throughout the country. They draw a drive-in market of theatergoers who see the value in spending a few hours in the car as opposed to spending hundreds of dollars to travel to New York City. And, if they are anything like me, they buy the original cast recording and sing along to it on the car ride home.
Here in New Orleans, we benefit from the beautiful Saenger Theatre at 1111 Canal St. It was built in 1927 with architectural details to transport people to an Italian courtyard. It sustained severe damage during Hurricane Katrina and reopened in 2013 after a $52 million restoration project. I have had the luck in life to have seen a dozen shows on actual Broadway in New York, and the Saenger outshines many of those venues.
The Saenger is home to the Hancock Whitney Broadway in New Orleans series of musicals. It brings Broadway Across America-produced musicals to New Orleans serving the Gulf Coast market.
“We have patrons come from as far as the Florida Panhandle to visit the Historic Saenger Theatre for Broadway shows,” said Sam Voisin, general manager of the Saenger Theatre. “The 2019-2020 Hancock Whitney Broadway in New Orleans season truly has something for everyone. We look forward to welcoming people from across the Gulf Coast for a great season of blockbuster shows.”
The 2019-2020 season kicks off with the return of “Wicked” to the New Orleans stage Oct. 2-20. There are also multiple New Orleans debuts including “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Mean Girls,” “Anastasia,” “A Christmas Story: The Musical” and Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Other returning shows include “Miss Saigon,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” and “Jersey Boys.”
According to Voisin, high profile shows are a popular draw for theatergoers.
“We had attendees from all over attend “Hamilton” – some even from as far as Canada! And with big names like “Wicked,” Dear Evan Hansen” and “Mean Girls” coming this season, we expect to see an increase in attendees from drive-in markets making their way to the Historic Saenger Theatre,” said Voisin.
The cost of tickets can be a considerable barrier for some people, so with that in mind, this week Hancock Whitney Broadway in New Orleans announced the addition of two new ticket packages for the 2019-2020 season. Each package includes three shows and the package price starts at $120. The Family Package includes “A Christmas Story: The Musical,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Anastasia.” The Fan Favorites Package bundles “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Jersey Boys” and “Miss Saigon.”
“These packages allow theatergoers to experience some of the best shows this season has to offer at a more affordable price,” said Voisin. “Additionally, many of the Broadway shows that come to the historic Saenger Theatre offer ticket lotteries, which give selected lottery winners the opportunity to get great seats at a special winner price.”
To purchase individual tickets or a package, visit BroadwayInNewOrleans.com, all Ticketmaster outlets, by phone (800) 982-2787 or in person at the Saenger Theatre Box Office.