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Office Depot Center to add theater


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Sunrise arena to add theater

The Office Depot Center in Sunrise will be augmented with an arts theater next year.


Special to The Herald

Next year, the Office Depot Center in Sunrise will become more versatile.

By September, West Broward residents will be able to enjoy a wide variety of shows, including national comedy acts, children's shows, musicals and off-Broadway plays a short drive from their front door.

Eliot Weisman, president of Premier Artist Services and one-time manager of Frank Sinatra, has been hired to program acts for the new Office Depot Center Theater, which he said will be an economic and cultural boon to the area.

''Being able to utilize this big, beautiful arena in other ways to assist the community economically will be to everyone's benefit,'' he said. ``Lots of people went to the former Sunrise Musical Theater . . . and the population back then was much smaller. This venue is more popular, compared to other [theaters], and there's no contest with parking.''

The goal is to open a more intimate space using a portion of the existing arena, said Michael Yormack, Office Depot Center's chief operating officer. A theater concept would complement what the arena is already doing, but with a seating capacity of 2,500 to 5,000 versus the 19,000 in the full arena.

''It will create a playhouse atmosphere,'' he said.

To prepare a portion of the arena for a smaller performance space, they must consolidate one end of the arena by putting up a very large curtain system, rising about 80 feet from the floor, Yormack said. The sight lines would be comparable to lower level and club seating. A new lighting and sound system also will be installed, he said.

''It was a mid-six-figure investment, but we're hoping to serve all of South Florida, being located in the center between Palm Beach and Dade,'' Yormack said.

Weisman said he plans to book shows that are as diverse as possible, with a subscription series from September to April and additional programming during the summer. The theater's opening acts will be announced within a month, Yormack said.

''It's a tremendous coup for us, to have Eliot Weisman as our programmer. At the end of the day, it boils down to programming,'' Yormack said.

Up to 35 shows will be booked per year, Weisman said, with tickets ranging from $35 to $75. For information, visit officedepot center.com.

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