Saenger Theatre History

The Mobile Symphony has performed in the historic Saenger Theatre since 1997. Built as part of a chain of Saenger Theatres along the Gulf Coast, Mobile’s Saenger opened on January 19, 1927, and hosted everything from vaudeville shows to silent films. It also was the setting for the first America’s Junior Miss pageant in 1958. Construction cost approximately $500,000 and took a year to complete. The Saenger’s style was intended to resemble European opera houses and the decoration was inspired by classical Greek mythology and Mobile’s coastal location.

The theater was closed in 1970 and later, like many of America’s grand movie palaces, was prepared for demolition. On the eve of its destruction, the University of South Alabama bought the Saenger, and the theater was renovated and reopened as the USA Saenger Theatre, a performing arts center.

In 1999, the City  of Mobile purchased the Saenger from USA. A nonprofit organization, the Centre for the Living Arts, Inc., was formed in 2000 to operate the theater. The CLA, with generous donations from the community, restored the historic building to its former glory at a cost of about $6 million. In early 2013, the CLA ended its contract and management of the Saenger. It is now in the hands of SMG, a worldwide venue management company.

In 2014, the Mobile Symphony was pleased to donate a new $373,000 acoustical shell to the City of Mobile for use in the Saenger Theatre. The shell consists of movable white panels that are situated around and above the orchestra during a performance. This structure optimizes the sound of our musicians so that the softest stroke of a bow can be heard in the farthest seat.

Personal Property

We regret that the management cannot be responsible for patrons’ personal apparel or property. Lost and found inquiries may be directed to the Saenger Theatre’s administrative offices, 251-208-5605.

Photographs & Recording

Cameras and recording devices may not be brought into the Theatre without the consent of the Saenger Theatre Management. Please note that recording in any form of a live performance may be a violation of federal copyright laws.


Restrooms are located in the Arcade and on the mezzanine and balcony levels.


The Saenger Theatre is a smoke-free facility.


Emergency calls may be received on the Saenger Theatre’s courtesy phone, at 251-208-5610. As a courtesy to other patrons, please disconnect electronic paging devices and turn off cellular telephones.

Fire Notice

The exit sign nearest the seat you occupy is the shortest route to the street in the event of fire or other emergency. Please follow the instructions of ushers or other theatre personnel.

Food and Beverages

Beverage service is available in the lobbies before performances and during intermissions. Alabama law prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages to minors. No outside food or beverages may be brought into the auditorium.


It is recommended that patrons who are prone to feeling cold in air conditioned spaces bring a light jacket.