Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre

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Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre is a community theatre in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Le Petit Theatre building seen from Jackson Square

Le Petit was founded in 1916, when a group of amateur theatre-lovers began putting on plays in the drawing room of one of the members.

The audiences of the Drawing Room Players grew, and the founders rented space on the second floor of 503 St. Ann in the lower Pontalba Buildings, for $17.50 per month. Irish playwright Lord Dunsany, visiting the city, formally launched the new playhouse. In 1922, the theatre bought the property for its present location at the corner of St. Peter and Chartres Streets. Three small shed-like buildings facing St. Peter Street were removed and the present theatre building was constructed in 1922. The structure incorporated a 1790s colonial building on the corner, which was renovated and helped inspire the style of the rest of the structure. Architect Richard Koch designed the theatre in authentic Spanish Colonial style.

The building complex holds a professionally-equipped theater. The corner building, reconstructed in 1963, holds reception rooms, offices, dressing rooms, and a smaller theater.

Le Petit is run by a Board of Governors, with productions staged by professional staff. Most of the performers are volunteers, in accordance with the charter designating it a community theatre, though many are professionals in music, dance, TV, or other performing arts. Auditions are open.

During its 95 years of operation, Le Petit has been recognized as one of the leading “little” or community theaters in the nation.

In March 2009, facing severe financial difficulties, Le Petit's board of governors voted to lay off the theatre's artistic director and staff, and appointed The Solomon Group, a New Orleans entertainment company, as interim manager.[1] The board terminated the Solomon Group's management in October 2010, and in December 2010 announced that the rest of its 2010-2011 season would be cancelled.[2] The theatre has continued to provide a venue for fundraising efforts and outside productions.[3] In May 2011 it was reported that the Dickie Brennan family of restaurants was negotiating to take space for a restaurant in the building, allowing the theatre to maintain its operations.[4] That year Dr. Eric R. George had unsuccessfully attempted to purchase the theatre as well.[5]

Theatre reopens

In June, 2011, 60 percent of the building was sold to New Orleans restaurateur Dickie Brennan in a deal that retired the theatre's $700,000 debt and paved the way for much needed renovations to the deteriorating building.[6] Brennan opened Tableau, a Creole restaurant, in a portion of the building and shares space with the theatre, which retained ownership of the original stage, executive offices, dressing rooms, and an educational space.[7]

In May, 2013, the theatre launched a revamped website, www.LePetitTheatre.com, appointed Cassie Worley its new executive director, and announced plans for a preseason or lagniappe production of Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron's "Love, Loss and What I Wore" in July and a regular season of plays opening September 6, with "Lombardi."[8] The 2013-14 season also included: “Death of a Salesman,” "Golda's Balcony," “Hair,” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”[9]

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