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The Coconut Grove Playhouse, 40 years of Books & Books, Miami’s Father of the Bride

Father of the Bride will begin streaming on HBO Max June 16.
Courtesy of THE MRKT
Andy Garcia, right, and Gloria Estefan, left, in the new Father of the Bride movie, which will begin streaming on HBO Max June 16.

The Coconut Grove Playhouse has been closed and sitting there abandoned for more than 15 years. Now the playhouse’s future is being set. Plus, Books&Books is a South Florida institution, we’re talking with the founder Mitch Kaplan. And a Latin twist on a classic movie about the relationship between a father and daughter.

On this Tuesday, June 14, edition of Sundial:

The Coconut Grove Playhouse

The story of the stately old building of the Coconut Grove Playhouse began in 1927 as a movie house, then about 30 years later, opened as a live theater.

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Since the late 1950s, it has played host to performances like Neil Simon’s ‘The Sunshine Boys’ and ‘Fame’, the musical.

It’s been shuttered since 2006. Since then, the building has been at the center of a legal fight between the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County.

The city has just dropped its efforts in that fight. That means the county’s plans have been given the green light.

County Commissioner Raquel Regalado joined Sundial to talk about what the future looks like for the Playhouse, which is located in her district.

The Coconut Grove Playhouse

40 years of Books&Books

If you can believe it — Books & Books in Miami is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

It’s a great place for author events, and Sundial even hosted a discussion there once for the Sundial Book Club with author Craig Pittman.

It's become one of those places in South Florida where the community really gathers. Creatives can go to write in the courtyard — or folks go there to see live bands or eat in the cafe on a first date.

So, how did founder Mitchell Kaplan create a place like this, which has lasted so long in a city that's got a reputation for change? He joined Sundial on Tuesday to share his reflections on four decades.

"The very first Books & Books opened in 1982 …Over the 40 years, watching Miami go through its growing pains and then becoming more mature and making some of the same mistakes ... It's just been so fascinating and so interesting," he said. "Miami was not viewed much as a city in which very serious reading went on … the sophistication of the Miami community was always here. We just didn't have very good PR."

Kaplan said a special moment for him was when he had one of his former high school students return as an author:

"One of my students came in the 10th grade with a fully formed novel. Her name was Tananarive Due. And Tananarive, after leaving high school and college, went on to write for the Miami Herald. But then she's had this amazing career in books, so I've been able to present her at the bookstore a number of times. That was really gratifying."

40 years of Books&Books

Miami’s Father of the Bride

Miami is the setting for a new movie starring Andy Garcia and Gloria Estefan.

It’s Father of the Bride, a remake of two other films — Father of the Bride in 1991 with Steve Martin and Diane Keaton and the 1950 original with Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor.

This new version comes with a Latin twist. The main family is Cuban. The family of the Groom-to-be is Mexican.

But the story is almost the same. A young woman comes home from college and surprises her family with her engagement. Now, the father has to accept the reality that his daughter is all grown up and moving on.

The director of the film, Gary "Gaz" Alazraki, joined Sundial to talk about the stories behind making this movie happen. It will begin streaming on HBO Max on June 16.

Miami’s Father of the Bride
The Father of the Bride

Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.
Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, leads the WLRN Newsroom as Director of Daily News & Original Live Programming. Previously she reported on news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News.