Residents’ ideas wanted for Coconut Grove Playhouse’s future

04/01/2014 4:35 PM

04/03/2014 10:28 AM

Members of the Coconut Grove Village Council and the Coconut Grove Playhouse Advisory Committee are seeking input from residents about the future of the famous but long-shuttered theater, which got a new lease on life in January when Miami-Dade County and Florida International University agreed to operate the site for at least 50 years.

Residents are invited to present their views at 6 p.m. Friday at Miami City Hall, 3500 Pan American Dr., during the first of three proposed "public brainstorming" meetings about the theater.

The idea is to assess the views of people who live near the theater and pass them on to county officials who are studying plans for the building, said Javier Gonzalez, the chairman of the village council.

“Our goal is to gain insight as to residents’ concerns and then present these topics to the county as a neighborhood consensus,” he said.

The Mediterranean Revival building was constructed as a movie house and opened in 1927 as part of the Paramount chain. It was converted in the 1950s to a legitimate theater and had a run of high-profile productions before closing in 2006 under a heavy burden of debt.

"Our local government officials have worked diligently to approve funding for the redevelopment of our local cultural gem," an announcement about the meeting said. It added that "now is a good time" to let officials know of concerns or ideas about the theater, which is to undergo significant internal reconstruction.

Plans call for the building to become Coconut Grove’s resident professional theater and the home of South Florida’s much-honored GableStage.

In its previous incarnation, the Coconut Grove Playhouse featured a host of theatrical stars, including Tallulah Bankhead in A Streetcar Named Desire, Kathleen Turner in Tallulah, Hal Holbrook in Death of a Salesman, and Jack Klugman and Tony Randall in The Sunshine Boys.

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