The Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse
Established as the “Aladdin” theatre, the doors opened to the public on August 18th, 1924, showing silent movies. Later, Brevard’s first “talkie” movie house became known as “the showplace of the Indian River Section”.
|Aladdin theatre, aka “Cocoa Village Playhouse” circa 1924.|
As the owners changed through the years, the theatre featured vaudeville acts, served as a station for the American Red Cross during wartime and then became the State Theatre featuring movies on the “big picture screen”.
|A modern view of the Playhouse in 2014|
Several owners and several decades later, the building was purchased by the City of Cocoa and renamed The Cocoa Village Playhouse. In August of 1984, Brevard Community College District Board of Trustees acquired the building for $1. With the understanding that the college would take the responsibility of ownership and make the theatre operate in the best interest of the community. The Trustees immediately established a 501(c)(3) not for profit Direct Support Organization with its own Board of Directors who were given the responsibility of raising funds to make the Playhouse self supporting.
Through donations from individuals, organizations, corporations and grants from Foundations, as well as the State of Florida. The Playhouse was restored operational and began producing community based musicals in 1989 featuring local volunteer performers. In 1991, the Playhouse was accepted onto the National Register of Historic Places in Tallahassee and the official corporate name became The Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse.
As the programming grew and became popular, the Stars of Tomorrow youth program was established in 1992 beginning with eight young people and now has over 264 participants. Each season featuring youth ages 7 through high school graduation. The program instructs them in not only the performing arts but life management skills as each “Star” is required to maintain a 3.0 grade point average in their classes.
The 2014 Cocoa Village Playhouse Lineup!
The performer base has now grown to over 600 volunteers who rotate throughout the productions each year with a core group known as the “Gold Star Performers” who perform in consecutive performances each season.
An audience base of 4,000 season patrons support the Playhouse each year and performances are known to sell out to the public before the run of each production is finished. Over 55,000 audience viewers participate each year.
Due to the growth of the programs, a Capital Campaign was launched to raise $2.5 million dollars to build a Technical Support Annex on the property east of the historic building which was donated by Harrison Vanderslice. The project totals $2.5 million and the Playhouse is continuing to raise the remaining $485,000 in funds needed for completion.
Known to all as “Broadway on Brevard” this team of artists including performers, musicians, technical staff, costume & lighting designers, set builders, office staff and all volunteers who give so much in each area that is needed, are truly an example of one of the highest quality community theaters in our country.
2013 saw major renovations of the historical playhouse
Check out this video of the Playhouse!