Saenger Theatre prepared to reopen after coronavirus pandemic


MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Last week, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced changes to her safer at home order. Those changes allowed for entertainment venues, like theatres, to open, which includes the Saenger Theatre in Downtown Mobile.

Even though they can reopen, it will still be a while before you can catch a show there.

“Theatre’s ready. We’ve got all the things we need. We’ve got all the PPE, the cleaning, we’ve got plans in place for that. It’s just talking to the promoters, making sure they can make money. Because they’re hurting,” said Mary Lee Gay, the senior marketing manager for ASM Global, the company that manages the Saenger.

Several of the shows they scheduled for over the spring are currently working to reschedule instead of cancel completely. Some shows have been canceled.

Governor Ivey’s order only allows for the theatres to open to 50% capacity. Gay says they are trying to figure out how that will work, by talking with promoters. “Some of our ticketed shows, that’s not going to cover the cost of the act and the expenses. And so we’re going to have to talk to them and see,” she explained.

This is the second time in a year the Saenger was forced to close its doors. Last August, they discovered mold in the theatre’s 1927 Rotunda. They were able to open back up in November, but closed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We were on track to do about 2.2 million dollars in ticket sales, which is the highest we’ve ever had. While we were out for the mold, we really worked hard to pack the spring fold to make up for the months we lost. We thought we had it,” said Gay.

The Saenger hopes when the governor’s order expires on July 3rd, more people will be allowed inside.

“We’ve got a show in August, that it’s already sold more than 50%. So how do we handle that? Who doesn’t get to come? So, the likelihood is if the occupancy doesn’t go up, we’ll probably keep moving those shows as we can,” said Gay.

But for now, they are planning for every situation.

“We will have extra staff in place that will be disinfecting high touch points very often. We’ll be spreading out our seating to meet the 6-foot guidelines.”


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