Crescent Theatre

Contributors

The Crescent Theatre was a popular theatre in early twentieth century New Orleans that played mainstream, relatively low priced attractions. The Crescent was built in 1898 along with its sister theatre, the Tulane. [1] The two theatres were both located on University Place. It was the larger of the two theatres, with 1,800 seats, 400 more than the Tulane. It was geared more heavily toward popular entertainment than the Tulane, and it was host to many plays, comedy acts, and popular musicians. The Crescent housed the type of offering that its owners had previously offered in the St. Charles Theatre. In 1917, it temporarily became the Loew’s Vaudeville Crescent, housing Loew’s vaudeville acts. [2]

Location

In addition to Klaw and Erlanger’s booking monopoly, the location of the Crescent was a large factor in its success. It was located in an area that housed multiple entertainment venues, as well as other significant commercial enterprises. It was right next to the Hotel Grunewald, which housed a late night entertainment venue called the Cave. [3] An advertisement in a playbill from the Crescent suggests attending a performance after the show, in this case to see a “famous” Brazilian dancing instructor perform with another dancer. [4] This proximity to the Cave likely enhanced the value of attending performances at the Crescent. Hotel guests may have also been lured to the Crescent for shows. Other nearby theatres included the Orpheum Theatre and the Strand Theatre. The area also included a dancing school and cotton factors, where cotton growers would go to display their cotton to potential buyers. [5]

The concentration of entertainment and complementary businesses in this area may have reflected an early progression toward concentration of commercial spaces, which was later manifested in the shopping mall. Raymond Betts writes that the shopping mall was created due to the U.S. highway system and its accompanying suburbanization. [6] The Crescent may have marked an early move toward clustering commercial venues together, possibly due to other trends of the time period.

While the Crescent’s location was favorable at first, it may have contributed to lagging performances later on due to a saturation of entertainment venues in the area. The Orpheum Theatre was built in 1918, and it was more modern and luxurious. The Crescent became Loew’s Vaudeville Crescent in 1917 when Erlanger put Loew’s vaudeville act in the theatre. Soon after, Loew built his own vaudeville theatre and the Crescent was converted to mainly playing films. [7] Loew’s newer vaudeville theatre was nearby, and along with other newer attractions, likely contributed to the Crescent’s conversion to a movie theatre. [8]

Types of Performances

Like the Tulane, the Crescent was a part of the Klaw and Erlanger theatre enterprise that had monopolized booking, allowing it to present some of the more famous acts of the time period. Performers included Tim Murphy, who was a well known Irish comedian, as well as musicians such as Johnny Ray, who played the song “A Hot Old Time.” An early play at the Crescent was The Governor’s Son, the first play written by the vaudeville star George Cohan after he retired from Vaudeville. [9]

Catalog of Known Performances

Vaudeville/Live Theater

The Three Aitkens, Jess, Bess and Robert, described as “New Orleans’ Favorite Vaudeville Artists” [10]

Eugenie Le Blanc: “Clever Comedienne and Dancer Extraordinary” [11]

Four Musical Avollos: World’s Premier Xylophonists [12]

Grey & Old Rose: In Novelties and Oddities [13]

Film

“The Lone Wolf” Directed by Herbert Brenon, shot in New Orleans, starring Hazel Dawn and Bert Lytell. [14]
“Movie Minnie” starring Maude Leon & Co., a satire on the films of Willard Mack. [15]

Works Cited

  • The Times Democrat, [New Orleans] (27 September 1898]: 6.
  • Kendall, John S. The Golden Age of the New Orleans Theatre. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1952), 579-82.
  • Insurance Maps of New Orleans. (New York: Sanborne-Perris Map Co., 1908 [updated 1933]).
  • Tulane University: Louisiana Collection.
  • Insurance Maps of New Orleans. (New York: Sanborne-Perris Map Co., 1908 [updated 1933]).
  • Betts, Raymond, “Happily Spaced Out: The Topography of Pleasure and Diversion”, A History of Popular Culture: More of Everything, Faster and Brighter, (London: Routledge, 2004), 105-31.
  • Kendall, John S. The Golden Age of the New Orleans Theatre. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1952), 579-82.
  • Insurance Maps of New Orleans. (New York: Sanborne-Perris Map Co., 1908 [updated 1933]).
  • Ibid, 579-82.
  • “Loews Crescent Showtimes”, New Orleans Item, January 6 1918.
  • “Showtimes” January 1918
  • “Showtimes” January 1918
  • “Showtimes” January 1918
  • “Showtimes” January 1918
  • “Showtimes” January 1918

This page was last modified on 27 April 2012, at 03:17

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Crescent Theatre

152 University Pl, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA