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Coconut Grove Playhouse's Mittelman Resignation Requested

On Friday, three Board members met with Arnold Mittelman, the 21 year long Producing Artistic Director of Miami's legendary Coconut Grove Playhouse; and asked him to resign.

As of Friday evening, messages left for Mittelman at his office and his home, went unreturned. He has thus far issued no public statement at all about this request for his departure. Indeed, Mittelman is yet to make any public comment on the state of affairs at the Coconut Grove Playhouse and its recent closing and reopening.

Mittelman's last public words were April 10, when he received South Florida's George Abbott Carbonell Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts. A conference call among Board members took place on Thursday, April 20. Board Chair, Shelly Spivak reported that most Board members took part in the "telephone meeting." Sources tell us that during this conference call, it was decided that Mittelman "must go" over concern of "financial handlings."

Public records show that Arnold Mittelman reaps over $200,000 annually for his position with the Coconut Grove Playhouse. It was revealed recently that the Playhouse is more than four million dollars in debt. The Playhouse was "closed" for a few days, with most being told this was due to a lapse in coverage of liability insurance. Sources on Friday said that the Playhouse did not temporarily close for insurance lapse reasons. They say the insurance never lapsed. The Playhouse was shortly shuttered due to much greater financial worries and concerns about Arnold Mittelman's money management and other money matters. This is amidst reports of staff not being paid, vendors being "stiffed," and checks being bounced.

On Friday, April 21, Board members Michael Chavies, Susan Fox-Rosellini and Lynn Martenstein requested Mittelman's resignation and gave him until Monday, April 24, to respond. The Playhouse's Board is scheduled to meet again on Wednesday, April 26, to discuss their options, based on how Mittelman responds to the request for his departure.

The Coconut Grove Playhouse was provided a financial band aid by actress Lucie Arnaz, star of its current production, "Sonia Flew." Arnaz gave $50,000 or her own money, and raised about $100,000 from others (including the Bacardi Company.) This allowed "Sonia Flew" to open an abbreviated run at the theater.

It remains unclear whether a majority of Board members would vote for Mittelman's termination, should he decide not to tender his resignation. Please see prior columns by this writer for the full unfolding drama at America's most renowned regional theater.


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From This Author Beau Higgins

Currently spending his time between New York and Florida, Beau was born to a theatrical family in Brooklyn. He studied drama at the Lee Strasberg (read more...)