The Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse is both a beloved piece of the city and county’s history and a popular entertainment destination for residents and visitors. The building itself is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a member of The League of Historic American Theatres. Built in 1924, the building is 89 years old, owned by The City of Cocoa and operated by The Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse, Inc. a non profit, independent, community theatre responsible for the operation.
Broadway On Brevard: The Playhouse serves approximately 55,000 audience viewers each year. Each production is enthusiastically directed by Dr. Anastacia Hawkins-Smith, lovingly known as the “drama mama.”
This year, the 24 “Karat Gold” Season of operation is the performing arts series featuring local community volunteer performers. “This series is the ‘driving force’ of the success of the Playhouse. It also includes Broadway Bonus productions, two of which are in January.” The series features performances from a wide variety of local performers and cultural organizations.
The playhouse also fosters young talent in the area with Stars of Tomorrow, a youth performing arts series that is much more than performing. “We assist youth with life management skills and learning how to become successful young adults whether they choose the performing arts as a profession or not,” Staci explains. “June is children’s month at the Playhouse each year and features performances to appeal to youth of all ages.”
Planning for a Successful Future: Due to the ongoing years of success, the Board of Directors has spent years on fundraising and improvements. The most recent include a renovated historic fly gallery bringing it into full operation, a three story technical support annex on the east side of the historic facility, a renovated auditorium, expanded orchestra pit and a balcony renovation. The renovation of the lobby and the mezzanine area are coming this summer with a $500,000 grant from the State of Florida.
The board of directors is committed to raising funds to continually sustain the theatre. Susie Wasdin, a member of the board of directors founded the Legacy Foundation, a recent fundraising arm for the playhouse. The Legacy Foundation is made up of members who pledge contributions annually for three years. The foundation’s aim is to be a continued source of income and cultivate long term supporters.
“It turned out to be even more than I anticipated,” Susie said. “There is a great source of people who love the playhouse.” Due to this tremendous support of the playhouse, another extension of the board of directors of sorts was created. The Aladdin Society, founded by Kathi Schillo, is a group of ambassadors for the playhouse who are privy to “insider” information and help raise funds as well. The group unveiled its signature fundraising events, Epicurean Delights for the 2014 year. Board members host dinners, teas, and picnics with creative themes and tasty fare that are open to the public. Prices range from $30 to $90. Tickets are purchased individually or an entire event can be sold as a special gathering for a group.
There’s also planning for future performances. The 25th year will open with the musical “Miss Saigon.”
“We invite anyone who has ever dreamed of performing to audition,” Staci said. “We will train you and it takes many different people to create Broadway on Brevard!”
The Playhouse is a 501(c)(3) non profit organization and depends solely on contributions, grants and ticket sales. Season and individual performance tickets are available.
For information on the Epicurean Delights events, the Legacy Foundation and the Aladdin Society visit CocoaVillagePlayhouse.com or call (321) 636-5050