South Florida theater icon Joe Adler dies

Producing artistic director of GableStage battled lengthy illness

GableStage's producing artistic director Joe Adler passed away Thursday.
GableStage's producing artistic director Joe Adler passed away Thursday. (Silver Palm Awards)

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – One of the most significant figures in the South Florida arts industry has passed away.

In a letter to the “GableStage Family” from GableStage’s President and Board Chair Steven Weinger, he announced the passing of Joe Adler, the regional theater company’s producing artistic director. “At a time when the world desperately needs passionate and loving visionaries like Joe, we lost Joe this morning to a protracted illness.”

In addition to his role as Producing Artistic Director at GableStage at the Hotel Biltmore in Coral Gables, Adler was one of the active voices at the center of trying to revive the Coconut Grove Playhouse, along with Michael Spring, director of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. The historic theater has been closed since 2006.

The revitalization plan was opposed by a group aligned with the Coconut Grove Playhouse Foundation.

Adler was to have moved his GableStage operations into the new Coconut Grove Playhouse if and when the project was approved. As of March 2, 2020, a new date had been set for a County appeal on March 17, 2020, to hear the arguments regarding the playhouse revitalization project, but due to COVID-19, that hearing was postponed.


During his time as producing artistic director for GableStage, the theater has been the recipient of the South Florida theater community's highest honor, the Carbonell Awards with 55 awards and 187 nominations. He has also been the recipient of other numerous awards.

Adler studied drama at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and graduated from the Film Department at NYU. He was in his 17th season at GableStage and had directed at multiple South Florida theater companies.

Weigner’s letter to supporters said that GableStage will continue its mission and has staff in place to continue Adler’s legacy. Currently all theaters are shuttered due to coronavirus emergency orders.

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