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Saenger Theater reopens two months after Hard Rock Hotel collapse

The collapse forced a small hole in the roof the theater as well as some marble damage on the Rampart Street side.


The Saenger Theater reopened its doors Wednesday night after being temporarily closed following the Hard Rock Hotel collapse two months ago. The theater's first show since the Oct. 12 hotel collapse was Criss Angel RAW – The Mindfreak Unplugged. 

 “Love Criss Angel! It’s a good way to open it back,” said theater guest Desiree Bennett 

“I am really excited to see everyone get back to work and things going back to normal,” added another guest, Lisa Morel. 

The closure forced theater staff to move some shows.

“We actually saw Dear Evan Hansen at the Mahalia Jackson Theater,” said Bennett. “It was nice that they moved it for us but it’s not the same.”

Other shows like the October 12th - 20th shows of Wicked were canceled altogether.

“At first I was really disappointed,” said theater guest Bailey Andrade. “I’ve always wanted to see it (Wicked) but it was the smaller of the tragedies.”

The collapse forced a small hole in the roof the theater as well as some marble damage on the Rampart Street side. When the cranes were imploded, there were a few broken windows and shrapnel also put a few more holes in the roof of the building. Regardless, general manager David Skinner says he is lucky and excited for the second reopening of the theater.

“I reopened the Saegner in September of 2013,” said Skinner. “We were closed from (Hurricane) Katrina and now today I am back to reopen the Saenger again for the Criss Angel show. It’s just as exciting today as it was back in 2013.”

The doors on Rampart Street are still closed and traffic is reduced down to one lane along Basin Street before and after the shows. With the mess, people were told to arrive two hours early.

“We came the back way so we didn’t have to go through any of the blocked off traffic or anything so it wasn’t that bad,” said theater guest Eileen O'Brien. 

People found parking in different places. It was offered up the street for $20 and it included a shuttle.

“They have a nice parking area where you can go to and there is a shuttle that drops you off right here so it was pretty convenient,’ said guest Donna Gilly.

The hole that was punched in the Saenger's roof did not actually damage the ceiling in the theater. Many of us know it because of the stars that twinkle in it.

The permanent repairs will happen after the Hard Rock is demolished.

City leaders say crews plan to take the building down piece-by-piece to recover two bodies that are trapped inside. Officials say it is still unsafe to recover the bodies of Jose Ponce Arreola and Quinnyon Wimberly due to the building's hazards.

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