By Bill Hirschman
The Maltz Jupiter Theatre’s 10th anniversary season will feature the crowd-pleasing brand of musicals that have cemented its popularity, but it will continue its push toward serious fare with two powerhouse plays: Doubt and Amadeus.
“We are celebrating our tenth season of success with the best Broadway-caliber productions and events that we’ve ever assembled,” the theatre’s artistic director, Andrew Kato said in a news release. “Our season is filled with classic musicals, family entertainment and captivating plays, including four Tony Award-winning productions and an MGM spectacle. Our audiences will be completely dazzled.”
The Maltz has built a solid reputation for lushly-produced, well-executed shows designed to appeal to the well-heeled, somewhat conservative senior crowd in northern Palm Beach County. It has been rewarded with generous donations from patrons and nearly sold-out houses. The theatre sells more than 70,000 tickets a year and serves a subscription base of more than 7,000.
But year after year, Kato has slipped in a “serious” ringer: a revival of 12 Angry Men, the world premiere of Kato’s original musical Academy, and this month, the acclaimed two-hander play about artistic creativity, Red – to be followed by Hello Dolly!
Both Doubt and Amadeus have name recognition among theater lovers, and both have been made into films. But they are primarily brilliantly written dramas relying heavily on great acting and direction rather than tap dancing spectacle – although the highly-theatrical Amadeus has the potential for sumptuous sets and costumes.
The schedule announced Monday is:
Amadeus – Oct. 30- Nov. 11
The Tony-winning drama by Peter Shaffer investigates the nature of art, talent and God’s role in both, in a fictionalized look at the all-consuming envy of mediocre composer Antonio Salieri that he claims drove him to murder the flamboyant genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Featuring two tour de force parts, the highly literate and often funny script written in 1979 is far more thought-provoking than the well-known Oscar-winning film from 1984.
The Music Man – Nov. 27-Dec 16
Meredith Willson’s classic musical about the slick confidence trickster Harold Hill who finds his conscience and his heart in a small Iowa town is blessed with a memorable score and a highly underrated book. The trick in a superb production is casting the right lead to fill Robert Preston’s shoes: someone with enough innate likeability to make us root through an entire evening for a man who wants to cheat everybody out of their life savings. The Maltz may have a winner in choosing Matt Loehr who was a standout in Crazy For You and plays Cornelius Hackl in Hello Dolly! this spring.
Singin’ in the Rain – Jan. 8-27, 2013
This song-and-dance extravaganza is one of the few times that a major contemporary (and successful) Broadway musical was adapted from a property that began as a screen musical. Echoing the recent movie, The Artist, it tracks Hollywood on the cusp of the transition from silents to talkies. The raw material includes a superb score and the opportunity for breath-stopping dancing.
Doubt – Feb. 5-17
Like Amadeus, John Patrick Shanley’s shattering drama is another battle of wills between two strong figures: a no-nonsense nun running a parochial school and the parish priest whom she suspects of abusing an altar boy. This Tony and Pulitzer-winning play was also made into a movie with Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The story is less about determining what is true as much as the pursuit of truth, as well as the collision between doubt and faith, facts and assumptions.
Thoroughly Modern Millie – Mar. 5-24
In fact, here is another successful Broadway musical based on an original film. Set in the roaring 20s, Millie is a song and tap dance show about a small-town girl who travels to New York City to marry for money instead of love. The show made a star of Sutton Foster and featured Florida native Marc Kudisch as one of the men in her life.
* Saturday, Sept. 8 – The Laramie Project: Presented by local high school students as part of the Maltz’s Youth Artists’ Chair program. The drama investigates the murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard through interviews with local citizens and officials.
* Friday, Oct. 12 – Through the Looking Glass: A contemporary musical retelling of the Alice Through the Looking Glass.
* Monday, Dec. 31 – Capitol Steps: The satirical cabaret show.
* Monday, Jan. 14 – Defending the Caveman: The longest-running solo play in Broadway history focuses on the hilarious ways men and women relate.
* Sunday, Jan. 20 – Late Night Catechism: A comedy rooted in the parochial school experience of past decades.
Season subscriptions are on sale now. Renewing subscribers have until March 13 to renew their subscription to be entered into the 10th Anniversary Season Celebration Sweepstakes.
The general public may begin buying tickets for single shows is at 10 a.m. Aug. 27 and for special productions, special engagements and limited engagements on May 7.
For more information, call (561) 575-2223 or visit jupiterthteatre.org.