Coconut Grove Playhouse

3500 Main Highway,
Miami, FL 33133

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David_Schneider on February 9, 2017 at 6:33 pm

The latest I’ve read from December 2016 says the plan is to keep the façade of the Playhouse but to construct a different theater inside instead of restoring the interior:

“To Be or Not to Be (small): Is Size Key to Grove Playhouse Revival?”

“Coconut Grove Playhouse Restoration Plans are B.S., Preservationists Say”

I have uploaded photos of a historical marker that was placed next to the Playhouse entrance sometime in the past year or so.

Coconut Grove Playhouse Foundation website.

Wow, back in the 90’s I’d walk past the sort of sealed up parts of the exterior of the façade along the sidewalk and wonder if there had been stores or something there, and if you look at the photo from the 1920’s it turns out they were storefronts.

For a year or so in 2014, the Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-in, now in Palmetto Bay near the Deering Estate, was located in the parking lot behind the Playhouse:

“Blue Starlite Drive-in Finds New Home at Old Coconut Grove Playhouse“

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on September 10, 2011 at 10:20 pm

A NEWS Theatre in Coconut Grove and the Grove overlap from 1941 to 1945, so they must have been different theatres. I assume the News was a newsreel theatre during this period.

rivest266 on January 16, 2010 at 6:56 pm

Grand opening (or reopening) ad with some pictures from October 3rd, 1930 is at View link

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on April 2, 2008 at 1:41 am

Three plans to rescue the theatre:

View link

Mmiami on March 25, 2008 at 2:00 am

Does anybody knows where I could find images and/or architectural drawings of the Coconut Grove Playhouse pre-1950’s renovation?? Beside the historical museum of Florida and Miami-Dade Historic preservation board.

AdoraKiaOra on March 2, 2008 at 4:46 am

Feb 2008 shot of the exterior of the auditorium and stage house with scene dock door and stage door to the right in the photo.
View link

AdoraKiaOra on March 2, 2008 at 4:43 am

A Feb 2008 photo of the Playhouse. From this distance it looks OK but a closer look will show you that it has been left to the elements of late. I spoke to the car park attendant and he said there was all probability that the theatre would be demolished this year!!! i walked away stunned!
View link

AdoraKiaOra on January 17, 2008 at 12:46 am

I saw Chita Rivera at the Playhouse back in the early 90s in her fantastic show with orchestra , dancers and singers. The theatre is a perfect live venue space and all should be done to reopen this gorgeous theatre. Chitas show had the personalized title of ‘Chita In The Grove’

curtis41 on January 17, 2008 at 12:38 am

As an 8th grader, at the then brand new North Miami Jr. High School, Mr. Ashbacher took a lot of students to the Coconut Grove Theater to see the Glass Menagerie and other plays. It was great and I remember it to this day. This was around 1955 or 1956. It was really nice to see a teacher want to have his students expand their horizons and although a day late and a dollar short, thank you very much Mr. Ashbacher.

ghamilton on January 22, 2007 at 5:00 pm

I wish I could remember the reference,but there was another theater in the Grove.I remember an article referencing it as a silent film house running in the earky 20’s.If I’m wrong or senile,delete this,as I don’t want to appear less sharp than I already may be.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on January 22, 2007 at 4:37 pm

LM, I don’t find a listing for Brue’s New Theater on CT. Is there another, later name?

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on January 22, 2007 at 2:07 pm

Interesting! I have been talking to the owner of a disassembled ‘F’ and his story is that it was removed from a Coconut Grove theatre in the early 1960’s. It has been in storage ever since. I’ve been reading David Junchen’s/Jeff Weiler’s “Wurlitzer, A Pictoral History” and infer that when some theatres defaulted on their payments, the organs were never actually removed as the cost of removal and storage would be higher than the resale cost.

Thanks for the tip on the possible original location.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on January 22, 2007 at 12:00 pm

The Wurlitzer factory records show that a Style ‘F’ organ, opus 1322 (2 manuals, 8 ranks, divided between 2 chambers)was shipped to the “New Theatre” in Coconut Grove FL in April 1926. Was that THIS theatre? Was “new theatre” just a generic name used at the factory or was this (or another hall in Coconut Grove) actually called the “New Theatre?”

JWX on January 18, 2007 at 7:13 am

That’s a great photo, Lost Memory.

The last play I saw at the Coconut Grove Playhouse must’ve been the return of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” in January, 1997. The seats, proscenium, and general atmosphere were still fantastic, although one smelt the decline in the air.

(There was also an annex at the CGP, which one could rent out. A jazz-loving professor of History at the University of Miami, invited his students to a jazz evening there, which sadly, few people came to. I believe it was out of his own pocket, too. This was also around 1997-8)

Right now, the Coconut Grove Playhouse has a dingy look to it, with closed doors, and the marquee above still proclaims the very last play which starred there.

Extract from the official Lucie Arnaz site:

“Sonia Flew” – Lucie stared alongside her daughter, Katharine Luckinbill in this new play by Melinda Lopez. (Coconut Grove Playhouse, Miami, Florida) (April – May, 2006)

Lucie Arnaz' background needs no introduction, of course, but just to note that her father, the late Desi Arnaz Sr., graduated from nearby St. Patrick’s School, in Miami Beach — and since she starred in several plays at the CGP, I’m guessing she might even live in South Florida, or maintains close ties to the area.

ghamilton on January 4, 2007 at 8:22 pm

It has been closed since April,when the house of cards collapsed.The fun bunch in charge after the fall,tried to get the historical landmark designations tossed out so they could tear the place down,sell off part of the property for a bundle,build 2 smaller theaters(sure).Today’s Herald says they are giving up on that sceme,trying to come up with a plan and start fund raising.I don’t think ANYONE who had a part in running this treasure into the ground should be left in any position of responsibilty.It took a LOT of arrogance,disrespect of the public and plain stupidity to destroy what had been such a sure-fire winner.The effette elitests that tried to cram works down the public throat that weren’t going to be swallowed deserve to be locked out of any future role.

ghamilton on April 27, 2006 at 11:42 pm

Sad news in recent articles in the Herald.The theater is having major finacial and personnel trouble.Could be some of the weirder works have turned off some regulars?

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on April 13, 2006 at 9:05 pm

The 1934 Yearbook lists this place as having 1350 seats.

I saw BILLY HILL, the failed Gerome Ragni play here in previews. I don’t think it ever left Miami after well deserved scathing reviews.

ghamilton on October 7, 2005 at 1:35 pm

Again,you awe and amaze,Mr.M.One word from me,who reads too many newspapers,and you are off on a Library of Congress research project.You always nail the essential truth.This place is a treasure.It can not be subjected to a muti-million dollar remake,as the idiotas in Richmond are doing with the Carpenter.First of all,they are very different venues.It’s like a super version of the San Marco in Jax., not Radio City Music Hall.Let them build a parking garage,not destroy the theater for someones ego.

ghamilton on October 7, 2005 at 9:08 am

A conflict between the Herald and Mr.Memory on dates.I’d put my money on Mr.Memory.

moviesmovies on October 7, 2005 at 1:30 am

a lovely theatre.
i recall seeing august wilson’s ‘fences’, the pre-broadway musical ‘urban cowboy’, ‘oh! calcutta!, barbara cook in concert, raul esparza perhaps as a pre-teen in a comedic play whose name i don’t recall, a musical called 'matador’, the thriller ‘corpse!’…
Past the lobby and prior to the main theatre there is ‘The Encore Room’; a performance space similar to an an off-bway n.y. theatre.
Many off-bway titles play here including Steven Fales in ‘X’d: Confessions of a Mormon Boy.'
Very well-known names have been involved in productions here for several decades.

ghamilton on October 6, 2005 at 11:52 pm

The Herald aricle has a nice picture of the bldg.Additional info of note in article include Style-Mediterranean Revival Architect-Richard Kiehnel,a great local man The 1950 renovation from movie palace to playhouse was by Alfred Browning.

ghamilton on October 6, 2005 at 11:43 pm

Interesting article in the Herald today about the landmark comm.listing the entire exterior as precious.The board had only wanted to list the entranceway.The board seems to want to destroy the bldg,build a new theater and a commercial parking garage with bond funds.The desire of artsy commisions to go grande at the cost of historical integrity is a national illness that runs rampant through these type of individuals.I’ve been there and love the theater and the Grove.It is changing-and NOT for the better.