In 1977, Professor Longhair didn't have long to live. As a human bridge connecting early 20th century blues, traditional Big Easy jazz, and Cuban funk, the now legendary musician changed the soundtrack to the city, paving the way for acts such as Dr. John and Allen Toussaint. Perhaps most notably, he penned the ubiquitous carnival anthem "Mardi Gras in New Orleans." But when it looked like his time was up, the NOLA community wasn't going to let him fade away. A group of fans, dubbed "The Fabulous Fo'teen," sought out a spot for the "Fess" to play at until his dying day. And that's exactly what he did at Tipitina's. They even named the place after one of his songs.
Proof that a former gambling parlor and cathouse can change its ways, Tipitina's century-old building has earned a reputation as one of New Orleans's finest music venues. Within its hallowed walls, many famous Crescent City acts have launched to stardom, from funk collectives such as The Neville Brothers and The Meters to rockers like Better than Ezra and the Radiators. All of these names grace the outdoor Walk of Fame, and the club also attracts national artists such as Wilco and Nine Inch Nails. However, the venue's immersion in the musical community goes beyond just shows—it also hosts music lessons for kids, weekly Cajun dance parties, and a retirement home for senior citizen horns. But as much as Tipitina's has expanded over time, it pays respect to the Longhair of its namesake every year with the appropriately punned "Fess Jazztival."
When players don their vests, squeeze the handle of their glowing pistol, and enter Laser Tag of Metairie’s neon-lit arena for the first time, one thing is clear: this place does not take laser tag lightly. Capable of hosting up to 44 players at once, the multi-level, futuristic battlefield sets combatants loose among ramps, tight corners, and shadowy corridors ideal for ambushing adversaries or learning to knit in the dark. Each game lasts seven minutes, and the arena’s officials keep a quick pace, making sure when one battle ends, another will soon begin.
The clatter of skee-ball machines drifts from the center’s arcade, mingling with strings of notes from Guitar Hero and sounds from other games. Each machine is equipped with a swipe-card system that tracks players’ credits electronically so they no longer have to measure their self-worth by how many tokens are in their pockets. In addition, guests can test their steering skills in the Spin Zone, a bumper-car area with one quite literal twist: there are two zones on the track that will send cars into a tailspin if drivers attempt to pass over them or park on them to exchange insurance information.
Favorably featured in the Times-Picayune for its riveting 2010 staging of Blackbird, Elm Theatre brings socially conscious theater to New Orleans's drama devotees. North Baton Rouge native and recent Windy City dweller Garrett Prejean returns to his home state to teach introductory acting to aspiring stage stars and uncanny De Niro impressionists sick of doing scenes with their reflection in a mirror. Prejean is a graduate of The Second City’s acting program, and he later taught at the famed comedy-star breeding ground. At Elm Theatre, he leads a series of workshops that includes the eight-week Acting 1 course. Groupon holders will be treated to an exclusive, three-week abridgement ($30 per-week value) of this course, with no required long-term commitment or blood-signed contract. The three-week session will touch on monologues, auditions, acting exercises, and the fundamental techniques actors use to create and finely tune their characters.
Since its arrival on the community-theater scene in 1946, Baton Rouge Little Theater has continued to flout its moniker with a seasonal audience of 30,000 and more than 150 theatrical performances, workshops, and classes each year. The upcoming season’s five main-stage productions promise a heaping dose of musical comedy and more drama than a high-school cafeteria. The curtain opens on September’s stage with Crazy for You, a frenetic comedy with toe-tapping dance numbers and songs by George and Ira Gershwin. Director Keith Dixon breathes new life into the sultry Southern airs of A Streetcar Named Desire, and Almost, Maine punctuates the holiday break with a story of love and loss that, unlike an amateur pole-vaulter, never falls short.
Helmed by Opera Louisiane music director Michael Borowitz, Chorus! soars through the sanctuary at First Baptist Church on the undulating sound waves of a 120-person choir and four soloists. Backed by a full orchestra, the Opera's own singers and those of the Baton Rouge Symphony Chorus pay homage to instantly recognizable works including the "Humming Chorus" from Puccini's Madame Butterfly and "Toreador Song" from Bizet's Carmen, moving the audience through dreamy, sweeping refrains and bold exclamations throughout a program that runs just less than two hours. Audience members may find themselves humming along in surprise to songs they already know from movies, commercials, or the soundtracks dogs hear when chasing squirrels.
Every day, hotels across the United States discard partially used bars of soap while people in poverty-stricken countries across the globe suffer from a lack of basic hygienic materials. Through the Global Soap Project, roughly 1,000 American hotels recycle their used soap into 30,000 brand-new bars per week. The organization's efficient soap conversion process delivers fresh bars to 28 different countries based on the greatest need.