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Historic Theatre Gets a Makeover

Get all of the details on this historic theatre’s transformation

5 Things to Know About the Essanee Theater’s Renovations

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The coronavirus pandemic has ravaged most industries in the United States and the performing arts are no exception.

The Iberia Performing Arts League was forced to shut down for the time being due to COVID-19 restrictions, but they’re making the most of their time off-stage by revitalizing the historic Essanee Theater This includes both an interior and exterior overhaul that’s sure to wow longtime residents and visitors alike.

Here’s 5 things to know about the overhaul:

The theater is getting a flashy new marquee.

Much like the Sliman Theater in Downtown New Iberia, IPAL is getting a new marquee. The marquee’s new style will be reminiscent of the theater’s 1937 design, and is sure to be a shining light on the downtown area!

“I'm very excited about the marquee because I think it's going to be a great addition to downtown and especially after looking at the one over the slime and just the impact that it's had as you drive down Main Street,” IPAL President Charlie Robertson said.

According to Donald Voorhies, the man leading the theater redesign project, the theater’s new marquee is expected to be finished sometime around March.

The new exterior will better match Downtown New Iberia’s aesthetic.

Mayor Freddie DeCourt’s master plan for New Iberia is set to further beautify the region and IPAL’s new theater design is due to fit right in with Downtown New Iberia’s updated look.

According to Robertson, IPAL worked with local historians to determine how to best give IPAL’s theater a historic, art-deco look that’s sure to jazz up Downtown New Iberia. He hopes that when the theater renovations, along with the rest of the Mayor’s master plan, are completed guests will be able to come to high-quality shows after a meal at a local restaurant, much like Broadway.

“And we want to start that tradition up again, so that people can enjoy coming downtown, enjoying a nice meal then coming over and seeing our great quality theater productions,” Robertson said.

The update comes with a renovated ticket booth!

The new marquee isn’t the only thing changing on the building’s exterior. IPAL is updating their ticket booth as well, which is sure to be a pleasant workspace for vendors

“We're making that nicer and more comfortable for our volunteers,” Robertson said.

The new ticket booth is sure to be the cherry on the sundae for IPAL’s updated exterior design.

IPAL is getting a new green room.

Not only are IPAL’s patrons going to reap the benefits of IPAL’s new design, but the cast and crew in IPAL productions will as well.

The theater is getting a newer and more comfortable green room so performers have a comfortable place to get in character, practice their scales or relax after a big show.

“We got new furniture, we're gonna have new redesigned seating areas, and dressing rooms and all kinds of stuff like that,” Robertson said. “We’re just kind of improving the experience backstage for those who volunteer.”

Much of the project was completed thanks to donations from the community.

The funding for IPAL’s redesign came from several different places. While a lot of the money for the project came from grants, some of the funding came from generous donations of friends of the program.

In particular, many of the donations came from the friends and family of Mac Stearns, one of the founders of the theater, who tragically passed away due to the coronavirus.

“We've gotten a lot of donations from his family and friends, and we're using those donations to make the green room better and make it more comfortable for our actors,” Robertson said.

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