Established as the Aladdin Theater, 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”. 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, made 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, Inc. 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 250 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 2,100 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 conducted to raise $1.9 million dollars to build a Technical Support Annex on the property east of the historic building. The property was donated by Harrison Vanderslice. The construction of the three story Technical Support Annex was completed in 2008 and immediately became fully operational providing a scenic workshop, a costume construction area, expanded dressing rooms, a designated hair and makeup area, and a rehearsal studio.
In the Spring of 2011, Brevard Community College returned ownership of the Playhouse to the City of Cocoa. Theatrical operations continued to be managed by the same 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, The Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse, Inc., while The City of Cocoa took the responsibility of maintaining the building.
The City and the Playhouse jointly undertook a dynamic million-dollar renovation project resulting in the Playhouse opening its 23rd season on September 28, 2012 with a newly renovated auditorium, expanded orchestra pit, and enlarged balcony. The auditorium is now considered one of the most beautiful theatres in Florida.
A $500,000 renovation project in the summer of 2014 funded by a Cultural Facilities Grant through the State of Florida was completed to upgrade the lobby and mezzanine areas of the theatre.
In 2016, the Board of Directors took the opportunity to purchase the historic R.M. Rembert Building adjacent to the south of the Playhouse. A capital campaign will be launched in 2018 for the restoration and renovation of the Rembert Building which was built in 1910. It is intended for this acquisition to better serve our patrons and assist in the mission of the Playhouse.
Known to all as “Broadway on Brevard”, this team of volunteers and staff are truly an example of one of the highest quality community theatres in our country.