The Historic Joy Theater to Reopen
New Year’s Weekend

The far reaches of Canal Street in downtown New Orleans will get another boost of much needed commerce when the long-shuttered movie house opens as a live entertainment venue.

The Joy Theater first opened in 1947 (as seen in this photo from the Times-Picayune archive) and closed eight years ago before the floodwaters engulfed the Saenger Theater, which is located across the street, and much of the surrounding neighborhood. The Saenger was the last remaining opulent theater in downtown New Orleans, which boasted four such facilities during the late 20th century.

The building was a lingering symbol of the decline of Canal Street. It also reflected the shift in the motion picture business from grand, single-screen movie palaces to suburban multiplexes. The photo above shows the sorry state of the property before the renovation began.

Opening weekend is going to be a pure, New Orleans-style celebration. Irma Thomas and saxman Lance Ellis are scheduled for Thursday, December 29 and the Soul Rebels with Cyril Neville’s Tribe 13 will grace the stage on December 30. New Year’s Eve will star Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers and Big Sam’s Funky Nation.

The theater’s exterior, complete with the grand marquee, has been repaired but will look exactly as it did when the Joy was lauded as, “New Orleans’ newest and most modern film temple.” The interior has been totally re-done reflecting the needs of the live entertainment business in the 21st century.

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