MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The iconic Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale is in the middle of a massive, $30 million makeover.

A plan that was well in place before the COVID-19 shutdowns.

Dr. Louis Parker built the Parker Playhouse on his own construction occurred over a course of only eight months and the building opened in 1967.

It is one of Fort Lauderdale’s first venues and is now managed by the Broward Center of Performing Arts.

“Since that time, the building has been donated back to the city of Fort Lauderdale, so it’s actually a city building that is operated by the Broward Center and we’ve worked together what is the 30 million that it’s gonna take,” said Kelley Shanley, Broward Center CEO.

State-of-the-art equipment is being installed to create a new hospitality experience in this storied venue that, in its heyday, featured shows by some of the biggest names in the business. “So, we’ve had James Earl Jones, Liz Taylor, Eartha Kitt, Mickey Rooney. I mean it’s a long list of names that people, especially this generation, will recognize that filled the stage here at the Parker Playhouse back then,” said Shanley.

Renovations will integrate the original façade of the building now in the lobby and many of the other original architectural features will remain. The 1,100 seats will be all-new, but the classic seating arrangement stays the same.

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The Parker Playhouse also restored and renovated all of the backstages. A new sound system was brought in and lights and technology really bringing the building up to what it needs to be for today’s audiences and today’s artists.

So now with theaters and performance art centers still shut down, the Parker Playhouse has a plan in place when the curtain can rise again.

“So, we’ve got our path forward, which is slow and steady and safe and comfortable for our audiences performers, and staff all with an eye on that prize which is returning to normal 100% capacity for all those great touring productions we have in our theaters that everybody knows so well,” Shanley said.

The renovations for the Parker Playhouse are on schedule to be completed by January 2021. They have not booked the opening performance as of yet, as they and all of us await the exact day when live theatre can reopen again.

For more information, check out their website here.

Check out their Instagram page and see some updates on the renovations.

Lisa Petrillo

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