Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Broward Theatre District - in Sunrise?

Is Broward County finally going to get a theatre district? The South Florida Business Journal seems to think so:

The scope is immense: 4,800 residential units; 950,000 square feet of retail space; 1,450 hotel rooms, 1.85 million square feet of offices and a Broadway-style theater that’s more than three times the size of the Broward Center for Performing Arts.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Broward Center, it has two theatres: the 2,700 seat Au-Rene Theater, and the smaller Amaturo Theatre, with 588 seats, and they have a banquet hall that has been used as a 200 seat blackbox.

At the heart of the project is a Broadway-style theater to be operated by the New York-based Nederlander Organization, which runs about 30 theaters worldwide. President James L. Nederlander became an SSE partner last year, but provided no details about when Oz may rise.

“Right now, there is nothing I can talk about,” he said.

I'm all for more theatre, but can South Florida really support another huge hall?
Broward has historically had a much more sparse theatre population than either of its neighboring counties, even though a lot of its workers live there. Broward Stage Door couldn't support Union productions, the 26th Street Theatre in Wilton Manors has gone through several different management teams. Sol Theatre Project and the Women's Theatre Project run on a very small scale; Plantation's Mosaic Theatre has done better, but it's still a very small company in a small black box, as it the Promethean Theatre in Davie. Promethean struggles to get audience out to Nova Southeast to see its productions.

And of course, the New Vista Theatre is fighting for its life, despite a number of critically acclaimed shows.

What do you think? Is Broward County ready for a major theatre district, and should it be assembled by a team from out of state and installed in Sunrise?

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