Marilynn Wick has never run a theater before — she’s the first to tell you that — but as of this week, she’s South Florida’s newest producer. Still, the savvy entrepreneur, a woman who built her company, Costume World, into one of the country’s major suppliers of theatrical costumes, isn’t just going to be offering an array of classic Broadway musicals at Boca Raton’s rechristened Wick Theatre, former home of the Caldwell Theatre Company.
Wick has a dream, a concept, every intention of making her namesake theater a one-stop, multifaceted theatrical experience. Her idea: The ladies (and gents) who lunch will come to the Wick, get free valet parking, check out the on-site Costume Museum where they can see original outfits worn by famous Broadway stars, have lunch in the Tavern-on-the-Green room, then catch a matinee and maybe take home memorabilia from the gift shop.
The Wick will be a mainstream theater and more, something sorely needed in a region that has lost five major companies (Miami’s historic Coconut Grove Playhouse, Manalapan’s celebrated Florida Stage, Davie’s Promethean Theatre, Plantation’s Mosaic Theatre and the Caldwell) since 2006.
After two performances on Thursday, the Wick will celebrate its birth with the gala opening of The Sound of Music at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Getting the 333-seat theater up and running has meant months of long days and nights, unexpected expenses such as upgraded sound and lighting systems, personnel changes and more. But it is the critical Phase One of turning Wick’s dream into a magnet for folks who appreciate Broadway-style entertainment.
“We’ve spent way over $1 million, and we’re not done,” says Wick, who acquired the Caldwell’s $10 million Count de Hoernle Theatre in a four year lease-purchase deal. “We have eight weeks of hard work ahead of us before the Costume Museum opens. And our budget will be $1 million a year or more.”
The under-construction, 10,000-square-foot Costume Museum will get its own gala opening Nov. 5, displaying notable Broadway costumes from Wick’s massive collection — including Sarah Jessica Parker’s costume from Once Upon a Mattress, a Cecil Beaton gown worn by Julie Andrews in My Fair Lady and Yul Brynner’s costume from The King and I . There’s also a dining room featuring a photo mural depicting New York’s now-closed Tavern-on-the-Green (it also sports an ornate chandelier, china, silver and crystal from the famous restaurant), plus a gift shop featuring everything from theatrical hats and masks to a stand selling elaborately decorated cupcakes and gelatos.
Once the theater and museum are operating, Wick will have her theatrical destination with multiple revenue streams, a one-stop venue where visitors can do as little or as much as they want. An off-season museum tour and lunch runs $38; in season, a theater lover can see a show for $58 or tour the museum, have lunch and see the show for $88.
Wick, who made her fortune with an industrial cleaning business before building Costume World into major national business, has put her stamp and vision all over her namesake theater. It’s a place with a distinctly feminine flair that should appeal to women, the drivers of so many ticket-buying decisions.