Tuesday, February 7, 2012


It started when Steve Shapiro asked me to post something for him.  You see, Steve was a long-time staffer at The Grove, and is intimately familiar with the problems that faced it.  So he's got a solid insider's view on the issue of saving the Playhouse.

And so he posted his view on the matter on the Facebook page of Save The Coconut Grove Playhouse.

Shortly after he posted his comments, they were deleted.  So we took a look, couldn't find them, and posted a couple of questions about claims being made on the matter.  Not only were our comments deleted, the page de-friended us.

Here's what Steve said about his own experience with STCGP:
Whoever is monitoring that space deleted the comment in about 5 seconds. He is NOT interested in a real discussion on this matter.

I was wondering if you would be interested in offering a discussion of it on your blog. While I sympathize with their desire to preserve a "piece of history", even when we were open, I believed that to keep the Playhouse going the theater would need to be renovated. While I think these people's hearts are in the right place, it's that heart that will forever prevent the Playhouse from being a viable theater again.
What Steve is saying - and The Scene has mentioned before - that the original structure, restored to its previous best condition, isn't up to fullfilling the mission of a professional theater in the 21st century, and may even hinder the daily operation of a professional theater company.

So we're going to delve into the matter right here.  We're going to examine claims being made, and we're going to find the facts of the matter.

Here's the comments that Steve made that Save the Coconut Grove Playhouse didn't want you to read:
"I was the sound man at The Playhouse for 16 years, right up to the day they closed. Let me offer a differing opinion. The physical plant at the Playhouse NEEDS to be renovated and upgraded. Let's not even get into the decay that has inevitably occurred since its closing.
  • The lack of wing space and low fly ceiling made the theater insufficient to sustain the kind of show that made it famous in its heyday.
  • The lack of an orchestra pit was a great detriment to the presentation of a musical.
  • The size of the house chamber (1100 seats) was too small to accommodate a big musical, but too large for a drama . Our program of delivering pre- Broadway theater was diminishing owing to limitations of the stage house, and intimate drama was very difficult owing to the size of the house.
While I admire your effort to preserve a local treasure, I assure you that the building as it stands is the major obstacle to making it a viable theater. It MUST be renovated if it is to be resurrected. Just my opinion, but one that comes from working in that space everyday for its last 16 years."
If Steve's name seems vaguely familiar, it's because during those 16 years and for a few years after, he has been one of the most highly acclaimed sound designers in South Florida.  He has a shelf-full of awards he's earned in that time.

But Save the Coconut Grove doesn't think his opinion is worth hearing.

The Scene, on the other hand, looks forward to a debate on the matter.  All we ask is that if you make any claim, you provide a link to a source that verifies or at least validates that claim.  We will remove libelous comments, but only those.  We don't even mind if you swear.

So the topic of THIS post is, "Was STCGP playing fair when it deleted this comment?  Should a grassroots movement trying to instill people to exercise democracy exempt itself from democratic principles such as airing dissenting opinions?"


  1. Chris,

    Thank you for promoting this discussion as it should be discussed. The person who has been "representing" STCGP (I don't think he's the administrator of the site) has been increasingly nasty and childish.

    They claim that my post included name calling and was nasty. I personally don't see that. It's a good excuse to keep me off their site, though (They have blocked me from posting on STCGP,and since they deleted my comments, there is no evidence that I behaved otherwise (until you posted my post). They also seem to think our first hand experience at the theater is not worth anything in this discussion.

    It pains me that they are so one minded that they will throw away knowledgeable information. It also pains me that they refuse to see that our goals are the same, to have a local, viable, successful theater on the Coconut Grove Playhouse sight. I just stated an opinion that their efforts to save a crumbling and inadequate physical plant will actually impede that goal.

    But what do I know. I only lived there for 16 years.

    Thanks, Chris, for doing what you do!

  2. Being a friend of Steve's, I also posted on their site and was royally rebuked. I replied, and my post was also removed and I was booted and blocked from further comments.

    I respect the historical value of the theatre, and would like to see the facade saved. Is $20 million enough to restore the theatre to a working 21st century facility? Will it forever be a drain on the taxpayers of Miami-Dade County? Is the parking lot part of the deal and can they possibly keep it afloat with parking revenues? Will whomever is hired to run it use it as his or her personal piggy bank?

    I don't think the STCGP is playing fair to delete our comments, and in doing so they have lost my respect. Does the anonymous administrator have something personal to gain? Inquiring minds....

  3. Odd...thought I posted a comment here, but it seems to be gone...hmmm....

  4. It wasn't me! I did get an email copy of your post, but it wasn't here when I clicked through; I thought you had changed your mind.

  5. Found it - it was lodged in the spam filter for some reason.

  6. Maybe the guy from STCGP is stalking me....

  7. Read a long exchange of comments on the Facebook page of this publication. Could not believe how nasty the guy was along with his refusal to accept any other point of view. I am convinced he is the anonymous administrator.