Coconut Grove Open Again, But Red Ink Is a Threat

News   Coconut Grove Open Again, But Red Ink Is a Threat Coconut Grove reopened April 13 after a brief shutdown following reports of bounced paychecks and insurance issues at the 50-year-old South Florida resident theatre, The Miami Herald reported.

Sonia Flew, the final play of the 2005-06 season, was in danger of not opening, but following a board meeting and last-minute fundraising by the play's star, Lucie Arnaz, the show will go on. The financial health of the Equity house remains in a question.

Calls and emails from Playbill.com to the Playhouse were not returned at press time.

According the Herald, Sonia Flew will play Coconut Grove in Miami but not move on to the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale, where CG works transferred for brief runs this season.

Coconut Grove is more than $4 million in debt, board chairwoman Shelly Spivack told the Herald. The Playhouse shut down April 12 when checks to suppliers and employees bounced. Signs were posted on the theatre's doors — a dire indication for a company whose artistic director, Arnold Mittelman, on April 10, earned a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Carbonell Awards, which honor excellence in South Florida theatre.

Sonia Flew was scheduled to play Coconut Grove April 18-May 7 and then Parker May 9-14. The troupe was $200,000 short for the production and creative people were told not to plan on it. Arnaz reportedly raised more than $150,000 and the board said the show would go on, the paper reported. Reasons for the debt are not public. Spivack told the Herald the debt accumulated over the last two years. The reason the Playhouse closed briefly April 12, she told media, was because insurance had lapsed, but an insurance agent refuted that, the Herald reported.

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Coconut Grove Playhouse, originally built as a movie house in 1926, includes two stages, the 1,100-seat proscenium Mainstage Theater and the intimate 135-seat Encore Room Theater. The Playhouse has been a South Florida landmark for more than 75 years and an acclaimed home for live theatre since 1956. Currently celebrating its 50th anniversary season, the Playhouse presents classic, contemporary and world premiere plays and musicals, participates in community outreach, and provides educational programs which serve South Florida residents of all ages.

Visit www.cgplayhouse.org.