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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Plans seem to be moving ahead for a "new" playhouse

The Miami Herald had a story on the Coconut Grove Playhouse yesterday, giving details about plans for a smaller venue.

I had heard recently of a few different scenarios. A Broadway company would love to take over the Playhouse and fill it with presentations for most of the year. Also, a South American company was also interested in maybe running it in summer months if the Broadway people had no plans for summer.

Another rumor was that a local politician wanted to take millions in historical money and move the playhouse to the Expo Center site in the new park, after of course, the Expo Center is demolished. But I think that was just a rumor.

But the plans now seem to be a three to five year plan where there is a smaller theater and various artistic partners will present local programs. A smaller theater (300 seats, rather than the current 1100) would require less money to operate. I'm not sure why, it seems that the amount of seats doesn't have much to do with the production costs of putting on a play, but then again, I am not in the theater business, so I don't know.

Just the fact that there are serious talks going on is a great thing. Let's hope they can move faster than the three to five years predicted. They still need to pay off the $4 million dollar debt and of course there is the usual talk of changing the structure on the present site. Let's hope some of the facade can stay.

The Herald story is

For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad that responsible people are taking over this project. A local real estate investor (Manny Alonso-Poch; the owner of the Academy of Arts and Minds High School)wanted to buy this historical landmark to demolish it and to build a profitable hotel/shopping mall on that property. I am glad he was stopped and deterred. We must preserve this historical landmark.

December 10, 2008 8:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is such an iconic building for the Grove. Let's hope they save most of it.

December 10, 2008 8:32 AM  
Blogger C.L.J. said...

The economics of the number of seats versus the costs of production work something like this:
- Most of your single ticket sales come from word of mouth: the critics review the play the first week, word spreads the second week, sales peak the third week.
- your subscribers should be at least half of your audience. The current average subscriber base in South Florida is 4500. The Grove was under 4000 when it closed, according to my sources.

With an 1100 seat theatre - presuming you are keeping the house full for optimum viewing experience - you've sat your entire subscriber base in one week, leaving you with an empty house for the second or third weeks.

Another critical factor is that performer contracts are measured against the capacity of the house times the ticket price per week; an 1100 seat theatre will therefore dictate a much higher compensation than a 300 seat theatre.

The Playhouse has been trying to reduce the size of its house for years; even Actors' Playhouse struggles to fill 600 seats.

December 10, 2008 9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand how they are going to change the seating unless they somehow demolish it. Why don't leave it as is? Having some type of plays is better than nothing, which is nothing now. This is an historic buiLding....Its not that HARD

December 10, 2008 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

saw this posted on the story website and I completely agree
"Sigh. Why do I already know that the Playhouse is going to end up yet another poorly built, vaguely Mediterranean mixed use condo retail debacle? The sad truth: If Miami cared at all about its history or theatre, the Playhouse wouldn't be in the position it's now in. Miami wants to make money any sleazy, lazy way it can, it wants to sell off every piece of public land to the highest bidder, it wants to drive cars it can't afford, it wants to get drunk, dance, and go shopping, but it does not want theatre, culture, or anything else that makes it think. Just plow the thing and get it over with."

December 10, 2008 10:38 AM  
Blogger C.L.J. said...

I don't understand how they are going to change the seating unless they somehow demolish it.

That's exactly right; they will have to demolish the building in almost any scenario. It's structurally unsound, and large portions of it have been condemned for years.

December 10, 2008 1:59 PM  

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