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Sunday, March 15, 2015

OUR BIG BLUE ELEPHANT (Go Home Kevin Spacey)

      Thanks Kevin Spacey... but the Coconut Grove Playhouse doesn't need your celebrity to save it.

It died seven years ago. Too large for the times, financial problems forced it to shut down. The big, blue elephant is now a city block of rot on the Grove's main thoroughfare.

    Once a symbol of our village's popularity and creative spirit, it is now an icon of failed politicians, leaders who take us nowhere while the elephant decays.

      We finally saw light last year. Working with Florida International University, local theater company, GablesStage, offered a well thought-out plan to build a smaller regional theater to replace the shuttered hulk that shames our town center.  Their ultra-talented artistic director, Joe Adler, lead this effort. 

     I like the idea of Joe's 300-seat theater. It fits the scale of the Grove, a "small town in a big city". It does not bring with it the traffic/parking problems that a larger theater would.
    I have known Mr. Adler since the late 70's. He is an outstanding leader, a dynamo of creative energy. Unlike most of our politicians, he gets things done.

     Just when it seemed we had a realistic plan to get us out of this mess, a few local leaders screwed it up. One of them contacted actor Kevin Spacey who was here last December basking in the Art Basel sun. When asked, "Can you offer suggestions on how to revive our Grove Playhouse?", Spacey unfortunately said, "Yes".
 He said, "Build it bigger!" (something more "spacey"), as if he knew what our community needs.  As a result, people with clout are now ga-ga over the possibility that Kevin might visit us occasionally and offer suggestions. This will happen only if we build a bigger playhouse, one that will accommodate his considerable talent and ego.
     At an important County Hall meeting last Thursday, our leaders heard two hours of discussion on whether we should go ahead with the sensible GablesStage plan or pump it up to create a Kevin Spacey R Us 700-seat venue.

      Rather than give the Grove what it sorely needs, the County Commission voted to consider both plans, one that would give us (I'm not making this up) two theaters.  Our leaders stand mesmerized by Kevin while the elephant rots. 

     We don't need two theaters. We don't need Spacey's big bundle that will be hard to fill and make the Grove's traffic worse. We don't need the influence of a Hollywood star that has said he is "interested" in our dilemma but has committed to nothing. 
    Remember when Madonna and Sylvester Stallone moved to the Grove? All we got from their two-year visits were "Stallonegate" and  the material girl posing naked on the bay in her book,"Sex".

     Wipe the stars from your eyes Coconut Grove.  Here's a chance to create something outstanding for our ailing artistic community. Send Kevin back to his house of cards and support the hometown boy.  Joe Adler and his group offer us the best chance to revive the Coconut Grove Playhouse.

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