Situated amid the willows, stone bridges, and mirror-calm waters of Louis Armstrong Park stands the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts. Named after a history-making gospel singer and civil-rights activist, the three-tiered auditorium was built in 1973 and hosted concerts, comedians, and other entertainment straight through 2005, when it was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina, a known enemy of the arts. In 2009, the theater reopened thanks to the dedicated work of Mayor Ray Nagin, the New Orleans City Council, and hundreds of workers and artists.
Every week, New Orleans's longest-running improv comedy troupe, Brown Improv Comedy, crafts one-of-a-kind hilarity based on the suggestions of theatergoers and bar patrons. The group runs with the suggested topic, creating skits and interactive games to tickle guffaws out of the audience. Having just celebrated their 18th year of performing, the team is well versed in turning out the funny and has outgrown the angst-ridden eye rolls of their 16th and 17th years of performing.
Competitors in the Southwest Division of the NBA’s Western Conference, the New Orleans Hornets have regaled the Big Easy’s hoops fans since migrating from Charlotte in 2002. Egged on by the vespine mascot Hugo, swarms of 17,000 fans swathed in light blue surround the court inside New Orleans Arena, where a center-hung LED board displays live-action video and instant replays of referees' most spectacular cross-court jogs.
With its imposing, slate-gray façade, the 170-year-old U.S. Custom House may be the last building in which you’d expect to hear the delighted squeals of children. But behind the steely columns, the building erupts into 23,000 square feet of colorful displays and fluttering, scuttling insects, courtesy of the Audubon Society and Insectarium. In the Asian garden, hundreds of butterflies dodge shafts of sunlight to alight on tropical ferns and the shoulders of young visitors. And at the Insects of New Orleans gallery, visitors can ogle the pink katydids, cockroaches, and lovebugs that contribute to the city’s heritage.
These bug-filled displays are all part of the insectarium’s mission to conserve Louisiana’s indigenous species and inspire stewardship in its visitors. While adults can sate their curiosity with the vast array of exotic species, curators gear many displays toward young guests by making them lighthearted and interactive: the Field Camp’s entomologist answers questions about how to collect bugs or break up flea-circus strikes, and at Bug Appétit, chefs dole out insect-filled delicacies to adventurous palates.
Renowned psychic and medium Chip Coffey, star of A&E shows Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal and Paranormal State, ushers audiences through preternatural territories in Coffey Talk, a witty and cathartic journey into the unknown. Clairvoyant, clairaudient, and as scintillating as a ghost-whispering Truman Capote, Coffey uses his psychic gifts to counsel the bereaved, ease the haunted, and terrify fraudulent realtors. In this special round of Coffey Talk, Chip guides the two-hour event through two hair-raising chapters of powerful emotion. The show starts with a question-and-answer session, where Chip explains the paranormal and mankind’s inherent psychic abilities before honoring queries about his daunting experiences, his TV shows, and continuity errors in Ghostbusters. For Act II, Chip puts on his psychic-reading glasses to contact spirits for select members of the audience.
Under the direction of Jonne Dendinger, the AllWays Lounge whisks audiences on a theatrical time warp during this vamp-tastic intergalactic musical stage show that inspired the cult-classic 1975 film. The plot follows newly engaged sweethearts Brad and Janet as a flat tire forces them to seek aid at a mysterious castle, where they find themselves at the mercy of a group of flamboyant extraterrestrials. Comedian and local thespian Becky Allen narrates this biting parody of sci-fi B movies, starring Marquee Award–winner Adam Alonso as Dr. Frank N. Furter, the Transylvanians' flamboyant, gender-bending leader, who is as obsessed with seducing the show's heroes as he is with creating the perfect man and inventing the world's first sequined hot dog. Devotees of the midnight musical can compete for prizes in Rocky Horror-inspired contests, games, and sing-alongs during "Transylvanian Madness,” which kicks off an hour before showtime.