The historic Emma Parrish Theatre will become the centerpiece of an entertainment venue that also includes plenty of space for outdoor concerts and the creative use of two other neighboring historic properties.
“I would like to make the Titusville Playhouse Entertainment District not just a theater, but a destination for all of Central Florida,” said Steven Heron, the Playhouse’s executive artistic director, tells the Florida Today
Fans of the 1905 Emma Parrish Theatre need not worry about its fate. “We will continue to produce shows in the main stage, because it is a unique and special theater,” said Heron.
An additional theater with rehearsal space, shops, offices, black box theater and an outdoor venue will provide the opportunity for four different venues running alternate programming throughout the year.
While the Playhouse was already exploring opportunities for expansion before the pandemic, it was COVID-19 that helped seal the deal when Heron and his crew decided to go outdoors for some of the shows.
“This included a show under the Shuler Auction canopy, which introduced us to the possibilities of the site,” said Heron.
“The tent is a very large 60 by 150 feet,” said Heron.
Cliff Shuler’s widow, Debbie, is a fan of the Playhouse and helped to facilitate the sale.
“She is so excited about the vision we have to build something that can be a shining example for Central Florida,” said Heron.
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Heron plans to focus on that space for events from September through March in order to capitalize on cooler weather and breezes, although the space could be used at other times of the year.
“Just the other day, we were under the tent planning and it was 94 outside, yet it was very comfortable under the tent with a great breeze,” said Heron.
The Playhouse also acquired two additional properties – a 1920’s hotel and a 1909 grocery store, making the organization’s footprint nearly three acres. “We plan to keep all the historic properties, yet give them all nice facelifts,” said Heron.
The hotel’s 14 rooms will be used as housing for out-of-town actors, theater interns and guest directors and creative staff. The grocery store will be transformed into The Vault, a modern speakeasy that will serve for cast and patrons to socialize over drinks after a show.
Financing the expansion begins with a capital campaign at the beginning of next year. The Playhouse is working with three theater consultants to finetune the master plan.
“We will need community, government and business partners to join in on the vision,” said Heron. “We are speaking with a country artist and the Space Coast Symphony to come in for special performances in the new venue. One of my main objectives is to offer entertainment opportunities for everyone in our community.”
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