The Maltz Jupiter Theatre has mounted just one production in its theater since the beginning of the pandemic—a reality that cannot be confused with idleness. Quite the contrary: The award-winning regional theatre has arguably been the busiest performing-arts company in the region during the extended downtime.
In 2019, the Maltz launched its capital campaign, raising some $6.6 million for an unprecedented renovation and expansion to the historic building, a bastion for theatre since 1979. Like all companies, the Maltz canceled productions during COVID and laid off much of its staff, but the closures permitted a speedier renovation. In March of this year, the Maltz “2.0” reopened to the public, and the differences are striking and voluminous. The once modest exterior now towers as a cultural and community beacon, with a glass-walled addition that will allow patrons to see, through the transparent walls, rehearsals happening in real time.
This week, Producing Artistic Director/CEO Andrew Kato led a small group of media through the expanded theatre for the first time, ushering us onstage and backstage, up to the third floor and down to a new basement space, explaining the renovations already completed and the elements still to come. Among the completed fruits of three years of labor are a deeper and wider stage—now tailored for potentially Broadway-bound touring premieres—an expanded orchestra pit and traps, and reconfigured stage lights. There is now an LED wall to include video elements in productions, along with 42 additional seats with carefully considered sight lines.
The most impressive addition, logistically, is the basement, which required a 20-foot dig—through water—accomplished during a 10-hour, overnight “monolithic pour” of 5 feet of concrete from 82 cement trucks.
On the new third floor—part of 32,000 added square feet—students were already utilizing the sprung-floored space for a dance class, learning movement to Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly With Me.” But the best, as Ol’ Blue Eyes used to croon, is yet to come. The renovation’s Final Act will feature classrooms of the Goldner Conservatory, a new costume shop, and a dining experience called “Scene” (“Do not call it a restaurant,” Kato said) in which up to 40 patrons can enjoy a bespoke meal catered around the theme of each production in the season, complete with theatrical lighting and live entertainment.
The capstone of this “Final Act,” at least for most visitors, will be the addition of a second black-box space, easily accessible through the main lobby, that will allow for expanded programming include small-scaled musical and plays, museum exhibitions, movie screenings and cabaret performances. The 199-seat space is “close to fully funded,” Kato says.
Attending an evening production—the Theatre’s next performance is the season-opening “Jersey Boys,” starting Oct. 25—is the best way to experience the impressive exterior renovations from architect Oscar Garcia. These include a theme of rays of light embedded into the new porte-cochère and lights embedded into an exterior wall in the form of the constellation Dionysus, the god of theatre. “When you drive at night, it’s very magical,” Kato says.
During its original incarnation, as the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre, what is now the Maltz welcomed a who’s who of celebrities in the 1980s. Farah Fawcett made her stage debut here; Ethel Merman performed her final show here. It’s a storied legacy that the theater will be continuing in an exciting future for arts and culture in the north Palm Beaches.
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