Smaller shows will go on at Ida-damaged Louisiana theater

Louisiana News

HAMMOND, La. (AP) — Shows will go on at a historic Louisiana theater despite damage from Hurricane Ida.

The Columbia Theatre in Hammond is converting a conference center into a venue for entertainment while repairs and planned renovations are made. The Hammond Star reports that Ida caused significant damage to the theater.

Plaster powder and chunks of plaster cover parts of the auditorium floor and seats. The orchestra pit held around a foot of standing water, and water buckled the stage floor, Artistic Director James Winter said. There was also damage to the stage, the third-floor balcony and bar, and the lobby.

Using the much smaller conference center, in a part of the theater that was largely spared by Ida, will allow at least some entertainment to continue. For instance, a play called “House on Haunted Hill” will open at the end of the month.

Some large-scale live shows won’t be performed at the Columbia during repairs. The Hammond Ballet Nutcracker has to find a new home, at least temporarily, Winter said. Also lost to the theater were planned live-action performances of “Rocky Horror Picture Show” and “The Last Waltz.”

”My first inclination was how much of our season could we salvage by moving it into that space,” Winter said. “Of course, it’s radically different, so we’ve saved a lot, but we’ve also lost some big shows.”

Restoration of the building and auditorium are being handled by Southeastern Louisiana University, which owns the property and insures it.

Last month, Winter was given a best-case scenario timeline of eight months, but it could end up being 18 to 24 months, the newspaper reported.

According to the venue’s website, the Columbia opened in 1928, featuring silent movies.

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