History of the 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 RiverZection”. 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 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. In the Spring of 2011, Brevard Community College returned ownership of the Playhouse to the City of Cocoa. Theatrical operations will continue to be managed by the same 501(c)(3), The Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse, Inc, while The City of Cocoa is responsible for maintaining the building. We will begin a $500,000 renovation project in the summer of 2014, funded by a Cultural Facilities Grant through the State of Florida to upgrade the lobby and mezzanine areas of the theatre. The City of Cocoa and the Board of Directors for the Playhouse are excited about the future of this historic community theatre in Cocoa Village.
The Playhouse opened its 23rd season on Sept. 28, 2012 with a newly renovated auditorium, expanded orchestra pit and enlarged balcony. The Playhouse has undergone tremendous renovations, including construction of a three-story technical support annex attached to the historic facility. The annex has enabled the Playhouse to expand its operations to include a community ballet company, specialty performances, and community events. An established audience base of 4,000 season patrons support the Playhouse each year and performances often sell-out before the run of each production is finished. This thriving community theater has extended runs for almost every show to meet public demand since 1995. Known to all as “Broadway on Brevard” this team of volunteers and staff are truly an example of one of the highest quality community highest quality community theatres in our country.