Hollywood Playhouse
October 14, 2012, 4:28 PM
Filed under: Development, Historic Preservation, Neighborhoods, Residents

“…a growing body of research suggests that the arts can be a valuable engine of civic renewal….The arts can nurture social capital by strengthening friendships, helping communities to understand and celebrate their heritage, and providing a safe way to discuss and solve difficult social problems.”  Saguaro Seminar on Civic Engagement in America. John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

The Hollywood Playhouse, a successful community theater for 50 years, fell victim to poor planning and developer greed a decade ago. The property is in foreclosure with bank and  City engaged in litigation over its future.  The City Attorney is recommending a settlement that would allow the bank to sell the property to a private party, with the stipulation that the City be allowed to use it for public purposes at least four times a year.  This would be a sad end to our community theater. At 5 PM on Wed., Oct. 17, the City Commission is scheduled to vote on this proposal.

A Better Alternative

Hollywood Resident Rene Barrett is a strong advocate for saving the Hollywood Playhouse.  She says “It takes a village!” to save our community theater.  To launch such a project would take more than talk, more than deploring mistakes from the past.  We residents would have to donate our time, our skills, and our money to make it happen.

Can we do it?  Read Rene’s article posted below.  It is followed by a few thoughts of ours to help you answer this question.

Hollywood Playhouse – by Rene Barrett

The Hollywood Playhouse is very special.  We can’t lose it.   I think it  has the potential to prove to be the best resource this city could ever have.

HP was self-sustaining and successful for 50 years.  In its heyday we had busloads of people coming from condos in the tri-county to this easily accessible facility.  The history of success is immense.  It included recognition by the Kennedy Administration in the early 1960’s.

We need people who are willing to roll up their sleeves.  What makes community theatre successful are the associations that can be made with the community by providing opportunity for a diversity of uses, such as for universities, community education programs, children’s theatre, community arts programs; creating a teaching venue for dance, music, voice, stage craft, etc., etc. Look at the successful Inside Out Theatre in Weston. The Ft. Lauderdale Children’s Theatre has been in business for 60 years.

There are so many ways to utilize this renovated building that has office space, kitchens, a large rehearsal hall, dressing rooms and several large rooms for multiple purposes.  As a 501C 3, just as one example, we can apply for grants from United Way to give music and dance lessons to Hollywood children. Hollywood Playhouse could provide a venue for touring plays as well as mounting its own productions.  Parks & Recreation and the Art & Cultural Center could utilize this facility.  An established production company might like this for their home.

A question has been raised that the demographics have changed in Hollywood, and indeed they have.  They have improved.  Hollywood now boasts a diverse cultural population that would provide a mission for this theatre to create a venue where various groups can have their artistic cultural events.

There are many ways that you can help. The first is to sign the petition at:

Come to the next City Commission meeting on Wednesday, October 17th at 5:00 pm. If you are willing, please step forward and speak from your heart. If you belong to a neighborhood organization or to an art or theater organization, think about what value this little Theatre facility could have for your organization and let the Hollywood City Commission know.

If the City Commission agrees to demonstrate the leadership needed to secure the Hollywood Playhouse, we will need to begin to raise funds to restore the facility. Donate; help to run the fundraising drive; write a grant; help us to organize. We will need to paint, refurbish and restore the theater. Theaters need carpenters, electricians, etc. Would you volunteer to make this happen? What are you good at? We need very active community support. 

If we don’t try, this mini-Shubert Theatre will be lost forever. We can only do.

Editors’ Thoughts

Will Hollywood residents pull together to take the lead in creating a public-private partnership to purchase the property from the bank? We can do this if we choose.

Will we raise significant dollars? (If 3,000 Hollywood residents would contribute $10.00 per month for a year, we would have $360,000 to put to the cause.)

Are you willing to donate your time, skills and $10.00 a month to reclaim Hollywood’s community theater?

Bottom Line:  If we want to save the Hollywood Playhouse, it’s up to us to do the job.  It’s not governments that save community theaters. It’s communities!




I know I have waited a long time to respond to Hollywood Playhouse blog. Was waiting for close friends to return to Hollywood after 4 months.  I did forward info re:theatre but their computer breakdown prohibited them ever receiving this info. They are here now and very interested. Can I get any feedback re: Oct. 17 meeting and possibly a contact person. Thank you

Comment by

Did they save it?

Comment by Sara E. Wolfer

The City Commission by a 4-3 vote rejected the city attorney’s proposed settlement with the bank. This means that the bank presumably will proceed with its lawsuit against the city and the city will continue to defend against the bank’s claims. Meanwhile, interested residents are exploring the creation of a 501(c)(3) and possible public-private partnership arrangements that could result in a reincarnated playhouse. Not easy, but not impossible. Time will tell. So far, so good.

Comment by Balance Sheet Blog

The proper approach to saving this resource is for concerned parties to create a non-profit entity, or partner with one already established with a similar mission or constituency, and recruit a board of directors or development committee that contributes no less than 40% of the funds needed, then commits to raising the remainder in an organized campaign with deadlines, defined leadership, and specific tasks. No magic, no begging, no short cuts. Which is why I suspect this won’t happen.

Comment by Obalesque

BRAVO. I was wondering how long it was going to take for someone to put forth the right solution to correct the problem. I thought about doing the same as our friend Obalesque. I chose to not present this solution for the same reason Obalesque thinks it will fail. Here’s the next question.

How much time are we going to give the Pro Playhouse people to launch their program?

Moving forward. We the People are going to need to protect ourselves. Any agreement that’s made between the City and the Pro Playhouse group must contain language that prevents Tax money being used for any purpose. If the Playhouse goes belly up the property can not be repurchased by the City.
Any and all proposals put forth by the group must be reviewed by independent counsel and paid for by the Pro Playhouse group.

Do you hear the guy playing the Fife? The tune is called, “Don’t let fools make the rules”.

Comment by Rev Tony Saia

It sounds like you think the City is selling this property and “Pro Playhouse” is interfering with that sale. Nothing is further from the truth. The bank, having foreclosed on the private owner, is the seller and whoever may wish to purchase the property must deal with the bank. The loss to the city concerns the loss of a future interest in land based on a reverter clause. This potential loss has nothing to do with “Pro Playhouse.” Whether the people of Hollywood organize themselves to buy the property from the bank may seem highly unlikely, but if enough people care enough, it’s not impossible, whatever song you wish to play on your fife notwithstanding.

Comment by Balance Sheet Blog

I would be happy to pay $10 a month for such a facility….there are any number of uses for the playhouse: readings, plays, discussion groups

Comment by siobhan mclaughlin

Pete Brewer asked us to post his comment (see below) and he adds that anyone interested in all the Posner/Hart loans should email him at

Postner/Hart was supposed to build a playhouse on Young Circle in exchange for the playhouse property. Patty was the agent on this deal. If these loans were good how come he owed the CRA $3.5 million when he died? How did the Red Apple group get possession of these properties?

Comment by Pete Brewer submitted by the Balance Sheet Blog on his behalf.

Comment by Balance Sheet Blog

“The Hollywood Playhouse, a successful community theater for 50 years, fell victim to poor planning and developer greed a decade ago”.

A decade ago? The facts here suggest that the “Community Playhouse” should have been laid to rest decades ago.

The fact that a “developer” was involved tells me that the community didn’t care then and most likely doesn’t care now.

If you want to have a community theater group I’m sure some community based organization would be more than happy to let a theater group use their otherwise empty “Halls” for rehearsals and shows. Then being the good community group that you are, you will give 95% of the gate to your host.

See how easy that was. Now sell it.

Comment by Rev. Tony Saia

Wow, what a negative post this is! It’s not that people don’t care. It’s maybe that they’ve lost touch or didn’t know what was happening. The proof that people do care is what is happening now. Well, I for one have been and am ready, willing and able to help make this little theater as glorious in the future as it has been in the past. Just let me know what I can do.

Shirley Stealey

Comment by Shirley Stealey

I don’t get it Tony. Why such a hateful comment from a person of G-d? Here is a blog exploring ways to save a much loved facility that fell into disuse because of mismanagment, developers, etc. We have an opportunity to save something of value that at one time gave luster to the city name. If you don’t have anything nice to say…

Comment by Jeff Barrett

The Playhouse deserves enough time to get the resources together. I’m willing to meet with supporters and get a plan together, and I’m willing to donate to a designated trust fund earmarked for the purchase.

Comment by Charlotte Greenbarg

Great Article Rene, see you Oct 17

Comment by Stephen Sarsfield

Hi Steve,
Are you willing to commit some of your time, skills and $10 per month for a year to reclaim the playhouse? The question here is how strong is the public commitment?

Comment by Balance Sheet Blog


Comment by Stephen Sarsfield

I would like to know how many people supporting saving the theater, actually regularly attended its shows? Therein lies the failure. It was successful because it had a support base, annual subscribers, and then they died, moved and new ones did not take their places. The Hollywood theater downtow Hollywood Blvd, was another one that fell to disinterest and – likely landlord greed.
If there were a real chance for a Community Theater to make it in Hollywood – it would require a heavy duty committment from a lot of residents and supporters. I would like to see the Hollywood Theater downtown used again as an art venue – as was originally proposed as a Cinema for Foreign and retro films. It would have been perfect, if the use of the Hollywood Bread Building garage had made itself available for public parking, and someone with vision could do it. Just saying!

Comment by Linda Wilson

Hi Linda,

Are you willing to commit some of your time, skills and $10 per month for a year to reclaim the playhouse? The question here is how strong is the public commitment?

Comment by Balance Sheet Blog

Comments are closed.