NEW ORLEANS — As the old saying goes, the third time’s the charm.
And the management of the Saenger Theater hopes that’s the case Thursday evening for their third reopening in almost a decade.
“It’s an exciting time. It’s almost -- almost -- as exciting as when we reopened in September of 2013 following our closure from Katrina,” said David Skinner, the Canal Street theater’s general manager.
Things went well until October 2019.
That’s when the Hard Rock Hotel collapsed, killing three people, injuring dozens more and forcing the Saenger’s closure once more.
The theater was able to reopen within a few months. Then COVID-19 brought down the curtain again in March 2020.
Now, though, it’s time to welcome audiences once again.
There will be some behind-the-scenes changes, such as new air-filtration systems and extra cleaning.
And while many COVID-19 restrictions have been loosened, some remain.
“Every patron coming in must wear a mask. We are going to be seated side-by-side, so we do have to have a mask on everyone,” Skinner said.
At the doors and concession stands, people will be encouraged to use digital tickets and credit cards as much as possible.
“We’re trying to go as touchless as we can. And we’re following the protocols of cleaning from the CDC,” Skinner said.
While ongoing repairs to North Rampart Street following the Hard Rock collapse have the street closed, theatergoers will be able to enter the doors on that side.
On Tuesday, a City Hall spokesman said there is not yet a timeline for reopening the street.
“They’ve thrown a lot at the Saenger. Guess what? We’re still here, we’re still standing. Come this time tomorrow night we’re going to open the doors and have a lot of fun,” Skinner said.