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Mobile - Mobile Saenger Theatre

6 South Joachim Street


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


Lizbeth Texas

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.

Britt Jacks

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.

Albert Cheatham

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.

Ashley Walker

Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017
Went to see A Christmas Carol while on a field trip with my kid. They were so organized at getting all of the different schools/classes in and out of there. The play was wonderful, very entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed it! Every inch of the theatre is absolutely stunning, gorgeous details and beautifully decorated for Christmas.

La'Tia Coleman

Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018
Such a beautiful place! The decor made me feel under-dressed in my casual sweater dress and boots. The orchestra was amazing and definitely something I want to see again.

Mobile Saenger Theatre is not affiliated with AmericanTowns Media