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New Orleans Fine Arts
For a relatively small city, New Orleans has a remarkably active and varied performing-arts community.
Philharmonic orchestral and chamber groups thrived in New Orleans during the 19th century. As jazz achieved society status during the 20th century, classical music took a backseat; however, many professional and amateur players ensure the scene stays active.
Friends of Music. This organization brings superior performers from all over the world to Tulane University's Dixon Hall. Concerts take place approximately once a month, and tickets usually cost $30 to $35. Willow St. entrance, Tulane University, Uptown, New Orleans, LA. 504/895–0690. www.friendsofmusic.org.
Jefferson Performing Arts Society. A wonderful cultural source, if a bit out-of-the-way, the society stages musicals, ballets, recitals, kids' theater, and operas at multiple locations including Metairie, Slidell, and Meridian, MS. 1118 Clearview Pkwy., Metairie, New Orleans, LA, 70001. 504/885–2000. www.jpas.org.
Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. The always good, sometimes excellent LPO has returned to the beautifully renovated Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts and continues to perform at Tulane and Loyola university auditoriums and at local churches. There's also a concert series in parks around town during the spring months. 1010 Common St., Suite 2120, CBD, New Orleans, LA, 70112. 504/523–6530. www.lpomusic.com.
Loyola University. An excellent music department hosts regular performances at its Roussel Performance Hall, including guest appearances by internationally known performers and the occasional opera. The Montage Fine and Performing Arts Series spotlights students in everything from jazz to ballet. 6363 St. Charles Ave., Uptown, New Orleans, LA, 70118. 504/865–2074. cmfa.loyno.edu.
New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. Wynton Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr. are just two of the better-known alumni of this prestigious high school. NOCCA hosts some fine student and faculty shows at its modern Faubourg Marigny campus, and its Center Stage Series presents top-notch performances by visiting jazz, classical, dance, and theater artists. The focus is on emerging talent, and tickets usually sell out fast. 2800 Chartres St., Bywater, New Orleans, LA, 70117. 504/940–2787. www.nocca.com.
Trinity Artist Series. Gratifying concerts of all types—solo, choral, orchestral, and chamber—fill the vaulted interior of Trinity Episcopal Church most Sunday evenings. Organized by local organist Albinas Prizgintas, the series features both local and regional artists, though the occasional star does pass through. Admission is free, and a relaxed, enjoyable evening is assured. And if you're fortunate enough to be in town the right weekend in late March or early April, don't miss "Bach Around the Clock," a 29-hour performance marathon that features everything from the eponymous composer's fugues and variations to classic rock hits arranged for organ. Check Albinas's website for dates. 1329 Jackson Ave., Garden District, New Orleans, LA, 70130. 504/522–0276. www.albinas.org.
Local dance performances can be found at arts venues like the Contemporary Arts Center, NOCCA, and Tulane and Loyola universities' auditoriums.
Jefferson Ballet Theatre. This community-based dance school and ballet company stages a few public performances each year, including festive balls and an annual holiday rendition of The Nutcracker. 3621 Florida Ave., Lakefront, New Orleans, LA, 70065. 504/468–1231. jeffersonballettheatre.com/.
New Orleans Ballet Association. The city's prestigious dance organization has returned to the lavishly renovated Mahalia Jackson Theater with a full schedule of performances and events. Performances also take place at other venues including Freda Lupin Memorial Hall at NOCCA. 1419 Basin St., Tremé, New Orleans, LA, 70116. 504/522–0996. www.nobadance.com.
Generous state tax breaks and scenic architecture have made New Orleans a popular place to film movies, which has given the Big Easy another nickname: "Hollywood South."
Zeitgeist Multidisciplinary Arts Center. Working with volunteer staff and a shoestring budget, Zeitgeist founder and filmmaker Rene Broussard established this funky and eclectic space as a venue for experimental theater. It later developed into the city's center for alternative cinema, although it continues to stage live performances as well. 1618 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., Uptown, New Orleans, LA, 70113. 504/827–5858. www.zeitgeistinc.net.
Film Buffs Progam. This Loyola University program screens independent, old-time, and foreign films during the school year. Loyola University, 6363 St. Charles Ave., Uptown, New Orleans, LA, 70118. 504/865–2152. ww.loyno.edu/filmbuffs.
New Orleans Film Festival. Cinephiles can get their film fix during this juried festival in October, which brings an influx of indie and film culture to town and ccommands screens at venues throughout the city. The film society, which presents the annual fest, also hosts screenings year-round, a French film fest, and FilmOrama in April—a week-long spring showcase of new foreign and independent films. 504/309–6633. www.neworleansfilmsociety.org.
Prytania Theatre. A visit to the city's last single-screen movie house, hidden in an Uptown residential area, is a reminder of the days when neighborhood movie theaters offered entertainment as well as air-conditioned relief from the summer heat. The Prytania shows first-run crowd pleasers and the occasional independent feature. The Grindhouse Cafe sells coffee and snacks out front. 5339 Prytania St., Uptown, New Orleans, LA, 70115. 504/891–2787. www.theprytania.com.
The Theatres At Canal Place. This first-run and art-house minimultiplex has five screens of premium viewing in the upscale Canal Place shopping center, on the edge of the French Quarter. A recent renovation added deluxe leather seating as well as a full-service gourmet café and bar that offers wait service for in-theatre dining and cocktails. Canal Place, 333 Canal St., French Quarter, New Orleans, LA, 70130. 504/581–5400. www.thetheatres.com.
New Orleans has long had a love affair with opera. The first grand opera in North America was staged here, and in the mid-19th century New Orleans had three full-time opera companies. Through the 20th century the city continued to produce famous singers, including Norman Treigle, Phyllis Treigle, Ruth Falcon, and Jeanne-Michelle Charbonnet.
New Orleans Opera Association. Returning to the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts and the Placido Domingo Stage, the October-through-April opera season generally showcases three operas, as well as a small handful of special events. Opera on Tap is an innovative series bringing performances to area pubs. 504/529–3000. www.neworleansopera.org.
New Orleans has a diverse theater scene, from touring Broadway productions at the Mahalia Jackson Theatre to original works performed by local companies.
Anthony Bean Community Theater. This community theater also houses an acting school, providing young local actors with a ready audience. Productions include musical dramatizations of musicians' biographies, as well as straight dramas in small but careful productions. Some casts include local bigwigs. 1333 S. Carrollton Ave., Uptown, New Orleans, LA, 70118. 504/862–7529. www.anthonybeantheater.com.
Bayou Playhouse. Theater buffs routinely make the hour's drive from downtown New Orleans to this unique theater that sits on the banks of Bayou Lafourche in the small Cajun town of Lockport, Louisiana. Theater director Perry Martin is a hometown hero there, having spent years working on Broadway and in Los Angeles, directing and producing more than 80 theatrical productions, many of them award winning. Returning home, he has brought an incredible artistic vision and world-class talent to this charming and unlikely location. Productions celebrate life in the South and in Cajun Louisiana. 101 Main St., Lockport, New Orleans, LA, 70374. 888/992–2968. www.bayouplayhouse.com.
Contemporary Arts Center. The center's theater hosts experimental works, burlesque, productions by local playwrights, musical performances, and multimedia events. 900 Camp St., Warehouse, New Orleans, LA, 70130. 504/528–3800. www.cacno.org.
Crescent City Lights Youth Theater. Call for the schedule of Summer Stages Children's Theater, which presents kid- and family-oriented productions by budding actors ages 7 to 17 in the Greater New Orleans area. 305 Baronne St., Suite 302, CBD, New Orleans, LA, 70112. 504/598–3800. www.summerstages.org.
Mahalia Jackson Theater of the Performing Arts. A $27 million renovation returned the lights to this fabulous stage, post Katrina, and restored the sculpture-filled Armstrong Park grounds. With a 21st-century sound system, a digital cinema screen, enhanced lighting, a new orchestra shell, and a cutting-edge ballet floor, the 2,100-seat theater once again plays hostess to the Louisiana Philharmonic Symphony, the New Orleans Opera Association, the New Orleans Ballet Association, the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Broadway shows, and much more. Armstrong Park, 1419 Basin St., Tremé, New Orleans, LA, 70116. 504/287–0351. www.mahaliajacksontheater.com.
Saenger Theatre. Reopened for the 2013 season after a massive, multi-year renovation and restoration effort, the Saenger hosts a Broadway in New Orleans series as well as national headliners. The theater, built in 1927, has impressive ceiling decorations, a chandelier that came from a château near Versailles, and Italian baroque touches. 143 N. Rampart St., Tremé, New Orleans, LA, 70112. 504/525–1052. www.saengernola.com.
Southern Repertory Theater. This well-established theater company specializes in original and first-rate contemporary theater productions. They stage premieres by regional and international playwrights and are the city's only year round professional theater. Performances are held in the Contemporary Arts Center. 900 Camp Street, Warehouse, New Orleans, LA, 70130. 504/522–6545. www.southernrep.com.
Tulane University. Best known for its summer bills of fare, the university has several arts and theater groups that stage top-notch musical and dramatic productions. Tulane University, Uptown, New Orleans, LA, 70118. www.tulane.edu.
Summer Lyric Theatre. This theater produces three crowd-pleasing musicals every summer at Tulane's Dixon Hall; tickets run $28 to $37, and tend to sell out fast. Tulane University. 504/865–5269. www.summerlyric.tulane.edu.
Summer Shakespeare Festival. Tulane's Summer Shakespeare Festival, at the university's Lupin Theatre, interprets the Bard in a series of four imaginative, high-quality productions. Tulane University, Garden District. 504/865–5106. www.neworleansshakespeare.com.
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