The Show Must Go On

Area Stage Company Looking for a New Home

By Lizzie Wilcox

From a 1,500 square foot theater on Lincoln Road in 1989 to a 7,500-square foot theater and conservatory at the Riviera Plaza on South Dixie Highway, the Area Stage Company has come a long way in 30 years. Owners John Rodaz and Maria Banda-Rodaz (above) left Lincoln Road in 1999 when rents skyrocketed, and the company lived a nomadic life for nine years, using theaters across South Florida (including the Biltmore’s GableStage) until it found their Gables home in 2008. The following year, they started the conservatory, offering classes in professional acting, song and dance. Their Inclusion Theatre Project (ITP) offered the same professional training to those with disabilities.

Now the Rodazes are once again looking to relocate, due to a Publix scheduled to be built in Riviera Plaza. They haven’t received an official notice yet, but once they do, they have six months to move out. They are hoping to stay in the same community, with Coconut Grove, South Miami and Pinecrest as options if Coral Gables does not work out.

“One of the pleasures when you start a theatre company – and with a conservatory – is that you create a community within a community,” says John. “[But] a space like this, you’re not going to find.” In the end, the Area Stage Company may have to build its own theater, creating a permanent home for the troupe and conservatory.