For three Monday nights in the late winter, Lincoln Road’s Colony Theatre was alive with light, life and more than a few laughs. The normally quiet night for the Road was being energized by the Kevin & Caruso Magic and Comedy Show.
“By the third week, we had over 300 people,” said the show’s producer, Kevin Jeffrey. “It was doing very well.”
However, not long afterward, Jeffrey pulled the show. He said dealing with the theater’s management company, Global Spectrum, and particularly union theater workers became cost inefficient, unpleasant and cumbersome. The theater is dark again on most Monday nights and Jeffrey said he isn’t interested in coming back any time soon.
“Unfortunately there were many issues,” Jeffrey said. “I’ve been working in theater for 20 years but have never dealt with unions and never experienced anything like this.”
What followed was a litany of troubles, Jeffrey said.
“Because it’s a union house, there are so many inefficient habits that it made things impossible,” he said. “It was not cost efficient or practical.”
Jeffrey cited several examples. Performers could not load in their own costumes, which they resented and wanted particular care taken with. Usher requirements for performances were “ridiculous.”
“We had to have four people come in for four hours minimum in order to turn the projector on, when my guy could easily have done it,” Jeffrey said. “It was just absurd things.”
Jeffrey also claims that workers were generally unfriendly and changed their minds frequently, complicating the job of production.
“One guy even lectured me on things that were none of his business,” Jeffrey said.
In early March, Jeffrey pulled the plug on the show at the Colony.
“There was no practical way to rectify the situation,” Jeffrey said.
“I wrote letters to the city but they were uninterested because they pay the management company to run things. It’s ridiculous that I wrote a letter to the city — and they gave it back to Global Spectrum. The city was just not interested.”
Jeffrey said he is trying to get back some of the money he paid for use of the facility but said he knows it won’t happen.
Max Sklar, tourism and cultural development director for the City of Miami Beach, said he had not personally been contacted about the issue.
“I didn’t know anything about it until after they had pulled the show out,” Sklar said. “I know Global Spectrum had been communicating with [Jeffrey] and I know he wasn’t happy and had pulled out.”
Sklar said he was aware that Global Spectrum had tried unsuccessfully to get Jeffrey to keep the show at the Colony.
“He’d already made his mind up, though,” Sklar said.
Global Spectrum manages the Miami Beach Convention Center, the Colony and the Byron Carlyle under contract with the City of Miami Beach. Sklar said the company has managed those facilities for a little over a year and there have not been many complaints.
“Honestly, I can’t recall getting another complaint — nothing stands out in my memory,” Sklar said.
Sklar said his office is familiar with most of the users of the Colony Theatre because most are city grant recipients.
“We interact with them all the time, so we would hear if they had problems,” he said.
Sklar said that since most users of the Colony are smaller organizations on tight budgets, agreements are made with unions to minimize expense. He said he has not heard specific complaints about union workers from Colony users at all.
Still, Sklar said, the city is not involved on a day-to-day basis with management of the theater.
Management at Global Spectrum did not make a scheduled phone call with SunPost to comment on the situation.
The closing of the Kevin & Caruso Magic and Comedy Show at the Colony Theatre has been noted by local businesses.
“It’s a shame because it is a slow night and it brought people to Lincoln Road,” said one Lincoln Road business operator who did not want to be identified.
Jeffrey said he is trying to identify another location for an additional weekly show, but he remains upset about the experience at the Colony Theatre.
“It sucks because the city hoots and hollers about the need for entertainment and this cost them nothing to bring hundreds of people to Lincoln Road,” Jeffrey said. “The city could have stepped in. With all the money they spend trying to bring people into town — they could have stepped in. They just weren’t interested.”