By Dean M. Shapiro
What a great way to start a New Year!
A historic downtown theater reopens featuring fabulous live entertainment. An orchestral Paul McCartney tribute is “knockin’ on the door.” The Little Sisters of “Nunsense” turn Tinseltown upside-down. And that’s just the beginning!
In the weeks to come “the Joint will be Jumpin’” with good old New Orleans R&B and Rock & Roll and the Blue Man Group will be scattering paint and mayhem all over the stage of the Mahalia Jackson Theater.
These are just a few of the cultural gems that will be getting 2012 off to a high-flying start. The post-Christmas fun began with the re-lighting of the landmark marquee at the Joy Theater on Canal Street last week and it continues later this week with the first live shows scheduled in the newly renovated former movie house. Then comes the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and Sir Paul look-alike Tony Kishman with a repertoire of classic songs from the Beatles to Wings. And then . . . here come the Little Sisters of Hoboken . . . again . . . in their latest hilarious misadventure among the Hollywood glitterati.
And, topping everything off, later in January, the New Orleans-styled Joint’s Jumpin’ show returns to the stage at the Joy and the Blue Man Group brings their sight and sound show to town, generating laughs and awe without uttering a single word.
Here’s how the local scene is shaping up in the coming weeks:
Joy Theater Reopens
The Joy Theater, located at 1200 Canal Street at the corner of Elks Place in the heart of downtown New Orleans, will reopen later this week after an eight-year hiatus, featuring live music and other forms of live entertainment from some of New Orleans’ top musicians and performers.
Inundated by floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Joy recently underwent a $5 million renovation by its development company, NOLA Theatre District LLC, and is now open for the business of live entertainment. Screens will be in place behind the stage for digital/video projections.
The theater also will host comedy tours and be available for private functions and corporate events. The theater's art deco exterior and landmark marquee remain intact, restored it to the way they looked when the Joy opened in February 1947, but the interior of the theater has been completely remodeled. The Joy features state-of-the-art sound and lighting, video screens, snack and drink bars and off-stage dressing rooms for the performers and crew.
The balcony of the old theater has been restored and houses 253 permanent seats. The floor will accommodate 405 chairs with flexible floor plans able to seat more or less as needs require.
Here is the entertainment schedule through New Year’s Eve:
- Thursday, December 29: Grammy Award-winning R&B singer and New Orleans native Irma Thomas and saxophonist extraordinaire Lance Ellis. 8:00 p.m.
- Friday, December 30: The Soul Rebels brass band, along with Cyril Neville’s Tribe 13. 9:00 p.m.
- Saturday, December 31: New Year’s Eve with Kermit Ruffins and special guests Big Sam’s Funky Nation. 9:00 p.m.
And here is the Joy Theater entertainment schedule through January:
- Saturday, January 7: “Glitz: The Art of Female Impersonation.” 9:00 p.m.
- Friday, January 13: Joint’s Jumpin’: A Celebration of Classic New Orleans Rhythm & Blues from the 1950s and ‘60s, featuring special guest emcee New Orleans native comedian Jodi Borrello.
- Saturday, January 14: Cowboy Mouth
- Thursday, January 26: Percy Sledge
- Saturday, January 28: Little River Band
More information on these upcoming shows will be posted as the dates get closer.
Valet parking is offered by the Joy Theater and there is plenty of available parking in nearby lots and garages. Tickets for all shows can be ordered through Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000 or through their website, www.ticketmaster.com.
For more information go to the Joy Theater website at www.thejoytheater.com/.
“Live and Let Die: A Symphonic Tribute to Paul McCartney
The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra kicks off the New Year at the Mahalia Jackson Theater with a rousing symphonic tribute to the compositions of Sir Paul McCartney.
The evening, which stars McCartney look-alike and sound-alike Tony Kishman, will feature songs made famous by The Beatles, Wings and other McCartney groups and solo acts over the past half-century. Fans of the legendary Liverpudlian can expect to hear such classics as “Hey Jude,” “Hello Goodbye,” “Band on the Run,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Yesterday” and, of course, the theme song that gives the evening its name from the James Bond movie of the same name.
This special, one-time-only concert, starts at 8:00 p.m. A podcast of an interview with Tony Kishman can be found at http://www.lpomusic.com/?q=node/890. For a sampling of songs from a previous concert, click here http://www.lpomusic.com/?q=node/808.
Nunset Boulevard: The Nunsense Hollywood Bowl Show
They’re back and they’re funnier than ever! The Little Sisters of Hoboken “go Hollywood” when they return to the stage on the West Bank in January. The Jefferson Performing Arts Society presents Nunset Boulevard: The Nunsense Hollywood Bowl Show! at the Westwego Performing Arts Theatre
When an invitation comes in for the sisters to sing at Hollywood Bowl, they can’t resist, thinking this is the “Big Time.” But, to their shock and dismay, they realize on arrival that they’re booked into the Hollywood Bowl-A-Rama -- a bowling alley with a cabaret lounge, not the famed "Bowl" they were envisioning. All turns out well in the end, though, as it always does for the sisters in this fun-filled song and dance production that will have you laughing from beginning to end.
Show times are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights and 2:00 p.m. for the Sunday matinees. Approximate run time is two hours with a 15 minute intermission between acts. Tickets are now on sale. Prices vary; check the JPAS website, www.jpas.org for more details or call 885-2000.
The Westwego Performing Arts Theatre is located at 177 Sala Avenue in the Salaville Historic District of Westwego, about 10 miles from New Orleans heading west on the Harry Lee Westbank Expressway.
Broadway Across America Presents Blue Man Group
January 31-February 5
Tickets are on sale now for the Broadway Across America presentation of Blue Man Group at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts.
Identical in their blue-painted skin, skullcaps, and black clothing, Blue Man Group was founded in 1987. Soon to be celebrating their 25th anniversary, Blue Man Group can attribute its longevity to an ever-changing, ever-evolving repertoire of skits and actions that keeps audiences around the world enthralled and in awe over what the guys might come up with next.
Utilizing the latest in digital and lighting technology, Blue Man Group is an amalgam of music, dance, magic, illusion, imagination and, of course, the requisite skills to perform these incredible feats. They catch gumballs in their mouths at great distances and fast speeds. They stir up a shower of colorful paint as they beat on paint-can drums. They juggle optical illusions at dizzying speed. They make music on instruments they devise themselves from ordinary PVC plumbing pipes and perform dozens of other astounding, eye-popping gimmicks, all accompanied by flashing lights and bizarre imagery. And all without uttering a single word during their shows!
All shows are an hour and a half in length with no intermission. Content is appropriate for all ages. Showtimes are as follows:
- Tuesday, January 31 at 8 p.m.
- Wednesday, February 1 at 8 p.m.
- Thursday, February 2 at 8 p.m.
- Friday, February 3 at 8 p.m.
- Saturday, February 4 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
- Sunday, February 5 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
To purchase tickets call Ticketmaster at 1-800-982-ARTS (2787) or order from their website, www.ticketmaster.com. You can also call the Mahalia Jackson Theater box office at 504-287-0351or visit their website, http://mahaliajacksontheater.com/ticket-info/box-office.
For more information about Blue Man Group visit their website at www.blueman.com. To view a sample video of them in action and being interviewed in street clothes, click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLC6849FB1858A3311&v=giGbBw0iJH8&feature=player_embedded#!
The Lion King
March 14-April 15
Tickets are also now on sale for The Lion King, the final offering of the season from Broadway Across America. More information to come as the date gets closer. Order your tickets through Ticketmaster.com.