Information on:

Mobile Saenger Theatre

6 South Joachim Street
251-208-5600

History:

Mobile's Saenger Theatre opened on January 19, 1927, it was the sixty-first Saenger theatre of a chain founded by J.H. and A.D. Saenger of New Orleans. There were Saenger Theatres located throughout the South as well as in Cuba and Puerto Rico. Hailed as, "Alabama's Greatest Showplace" and, "the most beautiful playhouse in all of Dixie," the Mobile Saenger Theatre took a year to construct at a cost of about 500,000 dollars. Designed by renowned architect, Emile Weil, the Mobile Saenger Theatre featured the following : three-color auditorium lighting, a two-manuel, ten-rank Robert Morton theatre organ, full stage facilities to accommodate large road shows including stage and wardrobe traps, four floors of dressing rooms, musicians' and chorus rooms and 2,615 seats. Around 1950, the seats on the floor were replaced and re-spaced, reducing the seating capacity to about 2,200. Seating capacity today is 1,921.
The building was designed in a continental style, intended to resemble European opera houses. The theatre's opera boxes that were located beneath the organ grilles were later removed to improve sightlines when the larger Cinemascope movie screen was installed. Other outstanding architectural features of the original building included: the tilted arcade, grand marble staircase, ornate lamps, chandeliers, statuary and door frames, a mezzanine and promenade. There were lavish furnishings in the men's "Stage Room," and the ladies' "At the Sign of the Lipstick," lounge which included magnificent draperies and carpets with the name of the theatre woven into the fabric.
The Saenger provided Mobilians with outstanding theatrical entertainment on the live stage and motion picture screen. The Saenger hosted silent movies, vaudeville shows, movies, dramatic and musical productions and was the setting for the first America's Junior Miss pageant. However--as was the case with many of these grand movie palaces--ownership changes, high maintenance costs and various other issues rendered many of these beautiful buildings nationwide, "white elephants." In fact, any were demolished to make way for parking lots and general urban development.

Then owners, ABC/Paramount, closed the Mobile Saenger and removed the projection equipment in early 1970. One the eve of demolition, the University of South Alabama bought the Saenger and saved it from destruction. It was partially renovated and re-opened as a performing arts center called the USA Saenger Theatre.

On October 1, 1999, the City of Mobile purchased the Saenger from the University of South Alabama. A new non-profit organization, called the Center for the Living Arts, Inc., was formed early in the year 2000 to operate the Saenger. The Center for the Living Arts with generous donations from the community restored the historic Mobile Saenger to its former glory, at a cost of about six million dollars.

The Saenger Theatre of Mobile now functions as a performing arts center and is the official home of the Mobile Symphony Orchestra. The Saenger features an annual Summer Movie Series and presents numerous concerts, lectures and special events. The Saenger Theatre is a historic landmark, dear to the hearts of Mobilians for its architectural grandeur and ties to our cultural history as well as for the extraordinary caliber of entertainment it offers our community today.

The Centre for the Living Arts, Inc. operates the historic Saenger Theatre and Space 301, a non-profit contemporary art gallery
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Reviews

A Moore

Rating:
Thursday, May 10, 2018
The understated exterior of this 1920's theater hides the granduer of the amazingly well preserved interior. A true hidden gem of downtown Mobile, Alabama. Upon walking into the front entrance, the mighty grand foryer invites her guests to take a step back into a time where the details of craftsmanship was an art. The Mobile Saenger quietly whispers her stories of many years past as she enjoys witnessing your awe of her inner beauty. From floor to ceiling, walls and decor, no detail of her stunning majestic glory has been ignored. The winding staircases and long halls leading to your seat remind you of the times of The Great Gatsby era and when people once dressed their best to enjoy the show. Although the seating space is cramped and makes for tight quarters in most areas, it's a small price to pay to attend an event at the Mobile Saenger! (Seats are approximately 13" wide, 8" knee clearance from open seat to the seat in front of you, 1" space between the seats, and arm rests are about 2" wide.) The modern amenities are minimal but sufficient, clean, and blend with the architecture.

Lizbeth Texas

Rating:
Thursday, March 1, 2018
I know that this Theatre is old,but that is what makes it perfect as soon as you stepped through the doors of this charming Jewel it is as if you have step back in time the staff is very helpful when it comes to seating especially if you're on a trip with well over a hundred third graders. The show was great,done by local performers of which a majority were children themselves. Easy to spot outside,clean and cooled inside,soft lighting in gigantic antique chandeliers, and a smaller stage that has the ability to draw you further into the show as it pulls you in. I should know as I was once one of the performers on stage as a child through high school and I now enjoy taking my own children back and introducing them to the wonderland of Theatre. Plus, it's great for date night being located right inside of the lively Lower Dauphin Street entertainment area.

Adam Swedenburg

Rating:
Friday, March 23, 2018
This place is really nice inside. It has its own parking lot to the left of the front door. Beside the front door is where someone sits that you can ask questions and get information from. Once inside the bathrooms are on the left side of the first room you walk into. Also inside is a small bar where you can get alcoholic drinks, regular drinks, and snacks. The show rooms are very nice they have a downstairs and an upstairs sitting area.

Albert Cheatham

Rating:
Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018
Mobile symphony orchestra is top notch. Even though it it feels like a place the one should be really dressed up one can go in jeans and it would be ok. This also a good place to introduce kids to symphony orchestra music. Maybe not young kids but I think older kids might enjoy this.

Britt Jacks

Rating:
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Been here for a couple of events and it is a nice classic theater. The location is perfect, right of Dauphin Street. The drink lines at the concert were incredibly long. They need more beer stations.

Mobile Saenger Theatre is not affiliated with AmericanTowns Media