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Believe: The Power Of Theater
JUPITER, FL – January 5, 2017– “If you want to be successful, it’s just this simple. Know what you are doing. Love what you are doing. And believe in what you are doing.” – Will Rogers
Big things have happened and are continuing to happen at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre. In an industry given to hyperbole, the changes are truly stupendous. No exaggeration necessary. Even their slogan proclaims, “Believe we can make it happen.” And it does.
But just what has happened?
In addition to doubling the audience to over 100,000 attendees and increasing subscriptions to 7,600 (up from 2,300), the Maltz is becoming widely known as not only the home for Broadway-scale productions, but also the birthplace of productions which have gone on to be produced by other theaters across the country. It is quite a feat – especially considering the very short timespan in which this has occurred.
“It is a very exciting time to be at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre,” says Dana Munson, the Theatre’s Director of Marketing.
Then there are the awards.
The Theater’s 2015/2016 season was awarded seven Carbonell Awards. The Carbonell is South Florida’s answer to Broadway’s famed Tony Awards®, encompassing theatres and performances in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. One of the oldest and most prestigious regional theatre awards, the Carbonell predates the famous Helen Hayes Award in Washington D.C.
With 21 nominations for the 2015/2016 season, the Maltz Jupiter Theatre had the most nominations of any nominees in South Florida – and also had the most wins – with seven. Awards included Best Musical (Les Miserables); Best Director of a Musical (Mark Martino, Les Miserables); Best Actor in a Musical (Aloysius Gigl, Les Miserables); Best Choreography (Greg Graham, Billy Elliott The Musical); Best Supporting Actress in a Musical (Elizabeth Dimon, Billy Elliott The Musical); Best Sound Design (Marty Mets); and Best Ensemble (Glengarry Glen Ross).
In addition to staging consistently award-winning productions here in Jupiter, the players and playwrights at the Maltz have created four plays that have gone on to star turns at other regional theaters.
“It is our goal to create plays that ultimately go to Broadway,” says Munson.
In order to attract the star-power and to foster creativity, the Board of Directors and staff at the Maltz have been executing a well-thought-out plan, in a series of careful stages.
With local support, they have designed, fundraised, and constructed a $2.5 million expansion known as “The Green Room Club Level Lounge.” This first floor space is intended to double as lobby space, be used as an additional Club-Level lounge, can be cordoned off and filled with seats, adding 62 seats to their 617-seat capacity limit. This growth was accomplished in the scope of one year – from concept to ribbon cutting – thanks in large part to a major contribution from the Roe Green Foundation, as well as contributions from other generous donors.
There are other big names that have helped make the Theatre’s dreams reality. The Paul and Sandra Goldner Conservatory of Performing Arts opened on the Theatre’s campus in order to provide 600 local students with after-school, weekend, and summer educational opportunities in the Theatre. “The Conservatory helps foster that love for performing and the arts that is so crucial in a community,” Munson says. “Even if the students don’t go on to perform for a living, they will learn valuable life skills.” Paul Goldner himself echoes this. Speaking at the time of the endowment he stated, “It is so important for young people to have the opportunity to be able to get up in front of a group and sing, act, dance, perform,” he continued. “No matter what these children decide to do, they will take something away from their experience here at the Conservatory that will serve them for the rest of their lives. I cannot think of a better place for children to grow and prosper.”
Of course, there are the Maltz’ themselves: Milton and Tamar Maltz. With a gift of $7 million dollars, the Maltz Family Foundation provided the platform on which the Jupiter Theatre was able to establish an endowment of $10 million, which is now fully funded – two years early. Additionally, the Theatre’s budget has grown from $4.5 million to $6.8 million, a budget that directly benefits Jupiter’s economy.
All of these changes happened in a few short years transforming a small regional theatre into a dynamic innovative playhouse. It is easy to understand why the Theatre’s slogan is, “Believe we can make it happen.”
DREAMING EVEN BIGGER DREAMS
These big things; however, are just the beginning.
Speaking with Munson, the enthusiasm is palpable. “We’re still a young Theatre organization. We’ve come far, but we still have far to go and we’ve set our sites on some great things like launching Broadway productions, creating multiple performance spaces, and nationally sought-after educational and internship programs,” he says.
In fact, the Maltz Jupiter Theatre is a member of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT). With 74 member theatres, LORT is the largest professional theatre association of its kind in America. LORT members collectively issue more contracts to actors than Broadway itself. The fact that the Maltz is a part of such an organization is impressive, “especially because we are such a young organization,” says Munson. But, keeping company with such illustrious names as the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut and the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, California also highlights the work yet to be accomplished at the Maltz. “Looking at ourselves critically, we can improve our national standing by accomplishing a few things that the other theatres already have,” he explains.
In order to more fully compete with those rarified ranks, the Maltz Jupiter Theatre has set a series of goals for themselves to achieve based on actions already performed by other successful regional theatres including the Cleveland Playhouse in Cleveland, Ohio, the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, California, and the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut.
The goals for the Maltz Jupiter Theatre are:
1. To be recognized nationally as an award-winning theatre;
2. To be able to launch pre-Broadway and National Touring productions;
3. To run multiple performance spaces;
4. To add new plays and musicals to the national theatre landscape; and
5. To have a sought-after internship program.
Munson says with a chuckle, “We also want to win the Regional Tony Award® too!” Looking at all that this talented group of people – the performers, the Board of Directors and Donors, the staff, the team of designers, architects, and consultants – has accomplished, no dream seems too far out of grasp.
ENTERTAIN, EDUCATE, INSPIRE, BELIEVE
In order to attract high-level talent, as well as to produce Broadway and National Tour shows, the Maltz Jupiter Theatre facility needs to be improved. Plans call for the modification of the existing stage, making it 10 feet deeper and six feet wider on both sides. The proscenium will also need to be raised by three feet. Under-stage excavations will create a trap room, an orchestra pit, and a storage area for technical equipment.
The production facilities will also be renovated to create three floors of state-of-the-art workspace. The first floor will house two “star” dressing rooms and two chorus dressing rooms, a guest lounge, storage, and a loading dock for both the main theatre and a second stage.
A new second floor will allow props and costumes to be stored in-house. “Currently they are kept off-site in warehouses,” says Munson. This floor will also contain two fitting rooms, a costume maintenance area, a wig room, a staff break room, the production offices, and an open-air deck.
A new third floor will contain a large fenestrated rehearsal room suitable to rehearse large-scale productions, a second smaller studio for breakout rehearsals, stage management offices, storage areas, and intern cubicles.
Central to the expansion plans is the addition of a Second Stage to the Maltz Jupiter Theatre. The addition of a 199-seat theatre, with the option of arranging seats in a variety of configurations, will allow the Theatre to diversify the programs that they offer, including experimental plays, film series, museum exhibits, and dinner events, as well as affording the Theatre the ability to produce smaller productions during the off-season.
Another key component of the Theatre’s expansion is enlarging the footprint of the Paul and Sandra Goldner Conservatory of Performing Arts. When completed, the newly remodeled building will have a prominent entrance on the east side and a second access on A1A allowing for easy – and covered – drop-off of students. The second floor will include a lobby and lounge area for students and parents to use while registering or waiting for classes. The third floor will include two large dance studios, an acting studio, three piano rooms, male and female locker rooms, a room for quiet space, and staff offices.
Given that the Conservatory’s third floor will be on the same floor as the Theatre’s backstage production rehearsal halls, the Conservatory’s students will benefit from a shared association with the professional artists working at the Theatre. “This means that the students will interact with the professionals and get the benefit of an almost mentor-type relationship, simply by virtue of location” says Munson. “Of course, there will be direct mentoring involved too, but the shared rehearsal space will be an added benefit.”
Doubling the size of the space will also give the Conservatory the ability to introduce new technologies and subjects to the curriculum, including training in green screen, camera, voiceover, and recording.
The Maltz Jupiter Theatre has become a world-class entertainment venue in just a few short years. If the trajectory holds, they soon will be one of the foremost Theatres – not just regionally – but also on a national level. The vision and the passionate drive are in place. The funds will follow. When it comes to this theatre, the dreamers may dream big dreams, but they also do the work necessary to achieve them. It is when “dreamers do” that great things get done. Do you believe? Stop by the Maltz Jupiter Theatre and you soon will. •
Photos/Renderings courtesy of Maltz Jupiter Theatre.