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Nov/Dec 2013 Issue

Curtains rise on restored theater in New Orleans

The much-anticipated restoration and renovation project to New Orleans’ grande dame of playhouses is finally complete, and the historical Saenger Theatre is back in the spotlight.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Saenger Theatre was painstakingly restored to her former glory when she first opened in 1927, including re-creations of the original finishes and color schemes. A reproduction of the original carpeting design also was incorporated thanks to a chance discovery of a swatch of carpeting saved by a Saenger family heir.

The lobby once again is lighted by two dozen chandeliers, many of which were original to the 1927 theater and discovered in a New Orleans antique shop. Those that are not original were re-created.

Even the Saenger’s famed ceiling sky with its twinkling stars has been restored to it original beauty and celestial orientation. The stars now glow with modern LED lighting and a new constellation has been added, as well as a few more stars, all of which enhance the magnificence of the sky as it moves from dusk to dawn.

The $52 million project features many added modern amenities, including new technical systems, new seating, increased concessions and restroom facilities, along with new lounge areas. Also, an expansive new stage was designed specifically for large Broadway productions.

Ironically, the theater was undergoing a remodeling project in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit the region. The waterline was about a foot above stage level, filling the basement and orchestra seating area.

The Saenger Theatre is located at 1111 Canal St. in downtown New Orleans. Parking is available in the nearby University Place lot and other garages in the neighborhood.

For a schedule of shows, visit

The Saenger was restored to its original glory when it opened as a silent movie theater in 1927. ACE Theatrical Group, LLC, photos


Arkansas Capitol to celebrate 75th lighting ceremony

The Arkansas State Capitol is often the site of political pyrotechnics, but during the holidays, affairs of state take a back seat to real rockets and lustrous lights.

In its 75th year, the annual lighting of the Capitol will take place on Dec. 7 in downtown Little Rock. The holiday tradition began in 1938 as a gift to the young patients at nearby Arkansas Children’s Hospital, which has a view of the Capitol building, and it has continued every year ever since then.

The day’s festivities begin with the Big Jingle Jubilee Holiday Parade, which will start downtown at 3 p.m. With floats, marching bands, and Santa and Mrs. Claus, the parade will travel from Second Street down Broadway to Capitol Avenue, concluding at the State Capitol, located at 500 Woodlane Ave.

Following the parade at approximately 6 p.m., a ceremony will take place outside the State Capitol, which will include entertainment and the lighting of 80,000 white lights on the building. After the Capitol is illuminated, a spectacular fireworks show will be held.

Also, Santa will visit with children in the Capitol Rotunda as choral groups perform. Then for two weeks after the lighting ceremony, school choirs will perform daily from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. in the rotunda.

Call (501) 682-3042 for more details or click on

The lighting ceremony has become a Little Rock holiday tradition. Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism photo


Christmas past echoes in Vicksburg

Relive holidays past this Dec. 14 with an authentic Civil War-era Christmas Ball replete with beguiling women in antebellum dresses, chivalrous officers in dashing uniforms, and Yankees on the march.

For Vicksburg, Miss., a city so intrinsically tied to its past, there is little surprise that the Civil War comes to life even during the Christmas holiday. Each December, Vicksburg hosts the Confederate Christmas Ball, formerly known as the Balfour Ball, a re-enactment of an 1862 yuletide celebration.

According to historical accounts, on Christmas Eve of 1862, Dr. William and Emma Balfour hosted a dance for Confederate Army officers and their spouses. Yet the ball ended when a rain-soaked courier burst in to say that Union ships had been spotted sailing toward Vicksburg.

The ball will be held at the Old Court House Museum (1008 Cherry St.) from 7:30–9:30 p.m. Many guests dress in period costumes, but semi-formal attire is an acceptable alternative.

Admission is $25 per person, which includes a wine buffet. Attendance is limited to just 125, and tickets can only be purchased in advance.

For details, visit Call (601) 636-0741 for tickets or e-mail organizers at



Learn how to cook like a chef

Louisiana is known the world over for its lively culinary scene, and thanks to a new crop of cooking schools like the Louisiana Culinary Institute in Baton Rouge, novice chefs and foodies can learn to cook like the pros.

Designed for students seeking a career in the food industry, the Louisiana Culinary Institute also features special programs–Leisure Classes–for participants who may just want to know how to make a great sauce, barbecue the perfect ribs, or bake a birthday cake.

The Louisiana Culinary Institute (LCI) itself is a state-of-the-art facility featuring classrooms, demonstration labs, a full service restaurant kitchen, and an amphitheater with a residential kitchen. LCI is also home to the Cooking Channel’s newest show “The Freshman Class.”

The leisure classes are a great way to get exposed to how the pros cook. Lessons for November and December include: sauces; impressive buffet desserts; holiday pies and tarts; the art of making sausage; gingerbread decorating for kids; and brunch, featuring Jack Daniels bacon, French toast, and omelets.

All of the events are hands-on, and participants receive an apron and recipe booklet to keep. Led by certified Chef Instructors, the classes typically cost $100 to $125. The institute is located at 10550 Airline Highway.

For more details, visit or call (877) 533-3198, Ext. 305.



Enjoy walking–and riding, cruising, and singing–in a winter wonderland

Winter can be enjoyed from the warmth of your home, but to truly appreciate its beauty and ability to stir the senses, you have to experience it, and Arkansas’s Pinnacle Mountain is offering several opportunities to do just that.

First, climb aboard a wagon to jostle your way through fields and woods during the Holiday Hayride and Campfire. Held from 3–5 p.m. on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 14, and 28, the rides will be followed by a campfire and hot chocolate.

Next, step aboard a boat for the Winter Discovery Lake Cruise on Dec. 7. Narrated by a park interpreter, excursions will be held at 1 and 3 p.m. Fees for the cruises and hayrides are $12 for adults and $6 for children 6–12. Advance payment is required.

For a more strenuous adventure, take a guided hike to one of the park’s seven peaks during Hike in the Hills. This free off-trails expedition will be held at 2 p.m. on Dec. 8, 15, and 22.

Finally, ring in the holidays with Caroling in the Forest on Dec. 21 from 7–9 p.m. Visitors will sing carols along a paved forest path. A campfire with hot chocolate will take the chill off the night. The park

is located at 11901 Pinnacle Valley Road.

Call (501) 868-5806 for more details, or click on

A group getting ready for a hayride at the park. Pinnacle Mountain State Park photo

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