By Bill Hirschman, FloridaTheaterOnStage (Jan 29,2013) - In the six and a half years since the landmark Coconut Grove Playhouse shuttered, irreplaceable theatrical history has festered in a fetid, crumbling structure, endangered by everything from larcenous-minded vagrants to Florida’s infamous mold-rich climate.
Expensive hand-made costumes, original set designs, playbills touting George C. Scott to Denzel Washington and Ethel Merman to Liza Minnelli, video recordings of productions, memorabilia reflecting the Grove hosting the 1956 American premiere of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot.
All of it and more languished while the Playhouse board, its $4 million worth of creditors, developers, state and county officials sparred over whom, if anyone, would take over the facility, if ever.
But in a third-act development worthy of a melodrama last fall, two groups rescued the ephemera of the most ephemeral of art forms. Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables and the University of Miami library’s special collections division have invested considerable time and manpower to retrieve some of the Grove’s treasures, officials confirmed this month.
Note: The opinions in the reviews by Bill Hirschman and his staff are strictly their own. Bill maintains a daily, comprehensive, website about theater in south Florida. It includes a calendar listing, reviews of current productions, Q&A with some of the actors, directors and producers of shows. Bill was formerly the Sun-Sentinels Theater Reviewer. His arts coverage has appeared in Variety, American Theatre magazine, Playbill.com, A&E magazine, the Miami Herald among many other outlets.