By: Marisa Herman Associate Editor
For 72 years, the Delray Beach Playhouse has entertained locals with theatrical performances.
Now, you can also catch a concert or cabaret show with new offerings this season.
Executive Director Kevin Barrett is building on the theatre’s offerings by adding shows like the Artists Lounge Live series and cabaret acts in the smaller black box theatre.
The Playhouse, a community theatre, puts on more than 200 shows and performances a year. A community theatre means actors are volunteers and don’t get paid for their performances.
This season, the line up for the community theatre opened last month with “Agatha Christie’s A Murder is Announced” and will continue this month with the “1940’s Radio Hour,” which opens on Nov. 30.
The intimate theatre holds 238 patrons, so Barrett is working to utilize the black box theater, which holds 140 guests with additional programming.
In the black box, he is bringing back a successful cabaret series that began last year as well as Michael Ingersoll’s Artists Lounge Live. These performances feature paid actors and singers.
For the cabaret series, there are four performers scheduled: Jeff Harner from Jan 4-5, Jenene Caramielo on Jan. 19, Judy Carmichael from April 12-13 and Gabrielle Stravelli from April 26-27.
The Artists Lounge Live program will bring Broadway stars to the Delray Beach Playhouse. The series was formed by Ingersoll of Jersey Boys. Barrett said he gathered his friends and asked them to perform in between their commitments to other shows.
Of the 16 different options for shows, three will head to the Playhouse. The first one, “Breaking up is Hard to Do,” where John Michael Dias sang Neil Sedaka, took place last month.
Still to come are: “Unforgettable Nat King Cole Christmas” starring Evan Tyrone Martin from Dec. 27-28 and “Elvis May Way” starring Brandon Bennett from Chicago’s Million Dollar Quartet from Feb. 22-24.
Part of the expansion in programming is to reach a wider audience, Barrett said.
He came to the Playhouse two years ago after 17 years at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts. When he saw the position open, he knew it was a place he wanted to help put his mark on.
He helped bring the Playhouse into modern times by revamping the website and launching online ticket sales.
From there, he has been enhancing marketing on social media and broadening programming to attract new patrons of a younger age.
Last year, he brought “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” and said it sold out months before it opened. So did the cabaret series.
“There is a hunger for date night, younger types of shows,” he said. “We are looking for more of that.”
He said the board will be launching a fundraising campaign soon to help replace seats, the roof and cover the outdoor patio so it can be used year round. Ultimately, the goal is host a gala-like event by 2020. The Playhouse is entirely self-funded and does not receive any help from the city or city agencies. It is also the only venue showcasing theatre.
The Playhouse will celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2021.