Groups scheduled for shows at Saenger Theater now looking for new venues

Groups scheduled for shows at Saenger Theater now looking for new venues
Biloxi is finally closing the Saenger Theater for long overdue restoration work.  (Photo source: WLOX)

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Biloxi's historic Saenger Theater is now closed for restoration work.

The announcement of the closure on Monday came as a shock for event organizers, who had the venue booked for performances.

Cheryl Black, owner of the Ballet-Theatre School in Gulfport, is searching to find a replacement for the Saenger so her students' May 26th performance can go on as scheduled.

"It's left a lot of us scrambling and there just aren't that many theaters down here to do this," Black said.

Last weekend, the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra performed in the Saenger for the final time before the closure was announced.

Executive Director of the symphony, Dhiana Skrmetti, is rushing to find a place for the orchestra to play on April 14 for what is usually the biggest show of the year.

She has certain venue specifications that must be met.

"We want to make sure that the stage is big enough and the acoustics are perfect because we would have no less for our audience members," Skrmetti said.

The performance groups are looking for a place to accommodate up to 700 spectators. Black would like to be able to use backdrops she's already bought, which were specifically fitted for the Saenger.

"We're possibly not going to be able to hang any backdrops, which means everything will have to be built as sets carried on and off the stage," Black said. "It's just quite a few things are different."

The theatre school and orchestra are expecting to use high schools for their upcoming performances. Both groups are looking forward to returning to the Saenger after the $700,000 repair work is completed.

"It's a beautiful concert hall and the acoustics there are just amazing and we want to see it thrive and be as amazing as we know it can be," Skrmetti said.

The groups are expecting to announce their replacement venues later this week.

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