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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Now what? County discusses Grove Playhouse

A large crowd showed up at Thursday's County Commission meeting to hear the latest on the Coconut Grove Playhouse. 

One interesting concept brought up was having a second theater on the site.

Actor Kevin Spacey's name has been battered around as possibly being involved as a consultant.

Earlier in they day, County Mayor Carlos Gimenez responded to criticism from County Commissioner Xavier Suarez. 

He mentioned that they have common goals in wanting the playhouse to be resurrected. The big question is will the building be salvageable? And will a second theater fit on the site?

Gimenez states in the letter, "Your position regarding maintaining the facade, configuration and size of the existing Playhouse and 'preliminary layout' will be shared with the county's professional architect, engineering and consultant team." He goes on to include traffic issues and possible parking garage. And he says that the contract with GableStage could be canceled at any time, which made Commissioner Suarez feel much better about agreeing to include GableStage. He had not felt they were up to the task.

The design team is responsible for creating a masterplan. It needs to be fully funded.

The mayor went on to say that the 300-seat theater will be covered by county funds and private donations.

GableStage and FIU are mentioned often as being the entities that will run the theater. Mike Eidson, the Arsht Center trust chairman, also will be involved. The large audience was in favor of GableStage running the Playhouse. By a show of hands, they were the favorite.

The two hour meeting ended with agreement that the economic prosperity committee will decide on whether to have GableStage operate the theater and whether to use $2.4 million for a planning contract to design the project, this would include Coconut Grove-based Arquitectonica. Of course the main goal is to find out if all or any part of the current theater is salvageable.

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Blogger Tony Scornavacca Jr. said...

Curious to know if anyone mentioned the $20 million that the voters passed for renovating the building?

March 12, 2015 10:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please please restore it the old building is a jewel and it has so much history in every inch

March 13, 2015 7:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And the embarrassing political circus continues. How long can it take to decide what to do with a little playhouse on a small corner?

2 Decades?! Pathetic bureaucracy at City Hall, as usual.

March 13, 2015 9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is funny they are concerned about traffic but it ok to building high rises on bayshore drive. Come on Really all this is your typical Miami and city of Miami making certain developers more money as the politicians are the consultants or some one in there family. We have seen worse building being redone and theaters.

March 13, 2015 10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was very rude and inconsiderate of Suarez to agree to bump the Playhouse discussion back to hear Jordan's other issues.
I was disappointed that there were so few Grovites and no Grove restaurant owners. Glad Nathan was able to speak.

The crowd mostly consisted of Friends of Joe Adler. Sorry that more folks did not speak out in favor of Kevin Spacey.

The guy that sells “Save the Playhouse” T-Shirts was the only one wearing that shirt. Guess he was not able to convince any of his Blog readers to attend.

March 13, 2015 11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Xavier Suarez and Marky Marc Sarnoff should be spending more time with Nathan Kurland re the Playhouse. After all he is the head of the citizens group.

March 14, 2015 1:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was there yesterday and astonished to not see a representative from commissioner Sarnoff's office present. I did see a few developers represented.

This was not a meeting designed for the public to attend yet 60 people had signed up speak. Definitely a sign of public interest.

March 14, 2015 9:38 AM  
Blogger C.L.J. said...

The 20 million will NOT go to the larger Playhouse that Suarez supports, it will be reserved for the original, smaller place that will actually be a functioning regional theater.

That said, at least one of the "Save the Playhouse" did speak, and it wasn't the guy selling the shirts. Thanks, by the way - I couldn't figure out his angle until you pointed out the t-shirt sales.

I commented about this on my own blog, the South Florida Theatre Scene, but I will address a couple of the comments here, because I'm in a position to shed some light.

Why Joe Adler? Because more than any of you, Joe Adler loved the Coconut Grove Playhouse. He went there as a kid, and eventually did direct several shows there. When the old Grove board of directors put out a call for a theatre company to take over, I scoffed because who would give up their brand to become the new Playhouse? And yet Joe stood up and said "I'll do it!"

I was surprised because Joe has put so much into GableStage. Most of you probably have no clue that he saved that company from extinction - it was originally founded in 1979 as The Florida Shakespeare Theatre, based at the small Minorca Playhouse.

Years of mismanagement left the company in debt, and it wasn't doing very much Shakespeare towards the end when they brought in Joe Adler. And then they lost their home when Hurricane Andrew destroyed it.

Joe could have packed it in then, but he found them a new home, rebranded as GableStage, and started doing shows that garner critical acclaim. And not just our local critics: Terry Teachout of The Wall Street Journal is a huge fan of their work.

And Joe understands the responsibility to give back to the community. By my count, at least five other theatre companies got their start on Joe's stage. He let them hold play readings there for free, so they could be seen.

I won't list them all, but Mad Cat Theatre Company is one of those companies, they create original work. The Naked Stage held the first 24 Hour Theatre Festival there, and it's become a keystone event on the local theatre scene.

A lot of people believe a lot of theatre started at The Grove; but in fact, it really only boosted a few shows to Broadway.

Waiting for Godot is most often cited, but it was a failure in every sense of the word. The production on Broadway was very different from the version that opened the Playhouse.

Urban Cowboy was a disaster that savaged their fiscal position. Fame, the Musical has yet to hit Broadway although it did eventually play London's West End, and did very well off-Broadway.

But mostly it launched revivals. And that's nice. Papermill Playhouse, the Goodspeed Opera House and others have a similar record.

Most of its productions were stuff recently closed on Broadway - stuff that Joe stages with great success.

That's why those of us in the theatre community throw our full support behind Joe Adler: he already embodies all the ideals that should be part and parcel of a revived Coconut Grove Playhouse.

And Kevin Spacey has only indicated - off the record - that he may be interested in advising, or consulting.

March 14, 2015 12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed Joe Adler is a Miami Treasure. He and the Gables Stage have brought wonderful regional theater to our community. He has been fiscally responsible. I have been told that it is more than possible, when the rent is a token dollar per year. But let’s not forget that Kevin Spacey is considered an International Treasure. Spacey brought acclaim and success to the Old Vic and he can do the same for our Coconut Grove Playhouse. Some folks want a 300 seat theater with Adler as its Artistic Director and some wish a second 700 seat theater, so that Spacey may be included.

How about one 500-600 seat theater, with Adler as the Artistic Director and Spacey as Consultant and Guest Director? Before any commitment is made, it is vital that Adler present plans for who will follow in his footsteps. Both Adler and Spacey will help revitalize the Coconut Grove Theater that will greatly benefit our community. Let’s respect both of these giant talents and be grateful for their desire to come to the rescue of the Coconut Grove Playhouse.

I also suggest that this historic building be saved and not replaced with a new flashy stainless steel and glass design. Hire a real preservationist Architect such as Richard Heisenbottle who has had enormous success with restoring the Freedom Tower, Gusman/Olympia and Miami City Hall/Pan Am Terminal.

The Coconut Grove Playhouse was once the heart and soul of our village. A first class theater, located in an historic building, surrounded by charming restaurants, is a wonderful recipe for success. Let’s make it happen again.

March 14, 2015 4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PAMM loses $16 Million per year, probably much more with debt service. ARSHT Center (PAC) loses $25 MILLION per year. MiaSci loses $10 Mil per year now with much more projected in 3 years when it reopens. Playhouse? It will lose money too.

March 15, 2015 6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Public art is a necessity for a well balanced civilized society. We spend more money and energy battling crack houses, meth labs, heroin and pot than on art. Violent deaths and heroin deaths are exploding despite over sophisticated policing and surveillance. We must be doing something wrong. Time for change.

March 16, 2015 7:10 PM  

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