While most area theater companies are still mulling the possibility of producing live theater in some form in the upcoming season, the Maltz Jupiter Theatre has announced a firm postponement of its 2020/2021 shows. Instead, it will begin construction this month to complete the expansion of its playhouse complex, previously reported to have a $32 million price tag.
The goal is to expand the current stage to Broadway scale and, thus, be able to accommodate future pre-Broadway tryouts of plays or musicals as well as full-sized national tours. In addition, plans call for three floors of state-of-the-art production facilities, an innovative dining experience dubbed Scene Café, expanded lobby and conservatory spaces, a redesigned entrance area and a 199-seat second theater auditorium.
The $4.2 million first phase of the expansion began in the spring of 2019, after the final performance of that season, and was completed that fall. Although the next phase was not scheduled to begin until April 2021, the Maltz Jupiter’s board of directors decided to jump-start construction now. The aim is to compress the final two phases into 13 months, working through what would normally be the 2020-2021 season and finishing the work before the 2021-2022 season begins.
“Completing the work now will ensure that we can come back stronger than ever when we reopen,” said producing artistic director and chief executive Andrew Kato in a written statement. “This expansion is bringing us even closer to reaching our goals of producing the next Broadway-bound play or musical right here in South Florida.”
The projected lost revenue from ticket sales has forced the theater to furlough 80 percent of its staff, to slash its annual budget for the upcoming season by 80 percent and to cease operation of its conservatory training program, which historically served 600 students annually.
All of these factors made the decision to forge ahead with the expansion particularly gutsy. “While we may be hitting ‘pause’ on our performances this season, we are determined to keep looking toward the future and focusing on transforming our theater into the best regional theater in the nation that will be ready for guests as soon as it’s safe to reopen again,” said Maltz Jupiter board chairman W. Scott Seeley. 6++
The fast-tracked construction plan has been made possible by a $5 million top-off grant from founding board members Milton and Tamar Maltz, in addition to a $5 million matching challenge grant through The Milton and Tamar Maltz Family Foundation previously pledged to the project. Kato concedes that the theater’s fundraising efforts have no+t yet brought in the entire amount needed for all elements of the expansion. If necessary, such finishing touches as the plumbing and electrical work for the conservatory, Scene Café and 199-seat second space might occur +in subsequent years.
The previous season ended abruptly when a statewide shutdown order caused the postponement of the final show, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. While the initial plan was to bring the production back to open the 2020-2021 season, the Maltz is now floating the possibility of it being remounted in the spring at an offsite venue if the local COVID-19 situation measurably improves.
Those who purchased tickets for the now-postponed season have already been contacted about their options. For further box office inquiries, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For questions on the construction, email staffer Laurie Stanton at email@example.com.