Students are spending their summer participating in a free ‘summer intensive’ mentorship program at the award-winning regional theatre

July 3, 2018 – A cast and creative team made up of local middle, high school and college students are dedicating their summer to producing a Pulitzer Prize-winning American masterpiece.

Under the guidance of industry professionals at Florida’s largest award-winning professional regional theatre, students are taking part in a free summer mentorship program to produce the drama To Kill a Mockingbird. The show will take place on the Theatre’s stage on Saturday, August 11.

A stage adaptation of the renowned 1960 novel by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird is told from the point of view of young girl Jean Louise Finch, or “Scout,” as she’s known throughout the play. When her father, a lawyer, takes on the task of defending an innocent black man against a potential death sentence in 1930s Alabama, Scout’s sheltered existence from racial issues is turned upside down.

Long considered a seminal classic and widely taught in U.S. schools, To Kill a Mockingbird illustrates the power of childhood innocence, morality and love. The book has been called “an astonishing phenomenon” by author Mary McDonough Murphy, and in 2006, British librarians dubbed the book as one that “every adult should read before they die.” It was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film in 1962 by director Robert Mulligan (with a screenplay by Horton Foote), followed by a play by Christopher Sergel. A new adaptation is expected to open later this year on Broadway.

Known as the Youth Artists’ Chair, the project aligns students with individual Theatre staff members for one-on-one mentoring and guidance during the creation process of the show. Since 2011, students have produced the dramas The Diary of Anne Frank, Rhinoceros, The Glass Menagerie, The Crucible, Hamlet, The Laramie Project and The Good Times are Killing Me.

“The Youth Artists’ Chair program is a wonderful annual opportunity for local students to spend their summer working on a relevant, important project with their peers,” said Julie Rowe, the Theatre’s director of education. “Our students have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge through the years and graduate-level training from highly-skilled arts professionals. We are beyond excited to be providing guidance this summer for their production of To Kill a Mockingbird.”

After passing through an extensive interview and selection process, the student creative team consists of: Frances Weissler (Director), 20, of Jupiter;  Jaynie Curzi (Assistant Director), 13, of Boca Raton; Jonathan Aviv (Co-Producer), 28, of Jupiter; Madeline Gilbert (Co-Producer), 19, of Jupiter; Brielle Cohen (Dramaturg), 16, of Jupiter; Maura Wilson (Scenic Designer), of Royal Palm Beach; Ryan Carroll (Lighting Designer), 16, of Jupiter; Kerstin Brown (Costume Designer), 20, of Okeechobee; Allegra Muilenburg (Costume Design Assistant), 15, of Palm Beach Gardens; Mia Rubin (Sound Designer), 13, of Jupiter; Sydney Geller (Props Master), 15, of Palm Beach Gardens; Colin Graulich (Assistant Props Master), 20, of Jupiter; Gabriella Smith (Production Stage Manager), 14, of Jupiter; Maya Arias (Assistant Stage Manager), 12, of Jupiter; Mitchell Hockenson (Assistant Stage Manager), 16, of Jupiter; and Sophia Gonzalez (Marketing Director), 18, of Jupiter.

The show’s cast will feature Jawan Hayes (Tom Robinson), 21, of Jupiter; Léandre Thivierge (Atticus Finch), 16, of West Palm Beach; Alexander Goodwin-Elam (Jem Finch), 14, of Jupiter; Melanie McDonald (Scout), 12, of Tequesta; Luca Riley (Dill), 13, of Jupiter; Brianna Alvarez (Calpurnia), 15, of Stuart; David Williams (Reverend Sykes), 19, of Jupiter; Savannah Sebastian (Ms. Maudie), 15, of Hobe Sound; Jessica Woodard (Ms. Stephanie), 23, of Jupiter; Summer Dingle (Mrs. Dubose), 16, of Juno Beach; Molly Dolan (Clerk, as well as understudy for Ms. Maudie, Ms. Stephanie and Mrs. Dubose), 13, of Jupiter; Spencer Landis (Bob Ewell), 18, of Jupiter; Adriana Mucia (Mayella Ewell), 19, of Tequesta; David Gaztambide (Heck Tate), 17, of Jupiter; Sebastian Rodriquez (Boo Radley/Mr. Gilmer), 12 of Palm Beach Gardens; Anthony Capizzi (Link Deas), 19 of Port St Lucie; Austin Adams (Mr. Cunningham), 21, of Jupiter; and Nicholas Russel (Judge Taylor), 14, of Jupiter.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a story that is not only classic but also timeless,” said the production’s director Frances Weissler, a student of the Theatre’s Professional Training Program. “Even though Harper Lee’s novel was first published nearly 60 years ago, the story still serves as a mirror to our society that speaks to themes such as racism, sexism and the dangers of a herd mentality. This is a story very close to my heart and something I feel is so important to share with others.”

To Kill a Mockingbird is sponsored by the Clark Family Foundation.

Tickets are on sale now for To Kill A Mockingbird, which will take place on the Theatre’s stage on Saturday, August 11, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for children. Please note that this production explores mature themes. Visit or call (561) 575-2223.

About the Maltz Jupiter Theatre
The not-for-profit Maltz Jupiter Theatre has become one of Florida’s preeminent professional theatres, committed to production and education through its collaborations with local and national artists. Currently the state’s largest award-winning regional theatre, the Theatre draws 100,000 people annually, serves a subscription base of more than 8,300 and has world-class classroom facilities in support of its Goldner Conservatory of Performing Arts, which serves hundreds of youth and adults. The Theatre is a member of the prestigious League of Resident Theatres and has earned numerous Carbonell Awards, South Florida’s highest honor for artistic excellence, including the prestigious Bill Von Maurer Award for Theatrical Excellence. For more information about the Theatre’s upcoming shows and Conservatory, visit or call the box office at (561) 575-2223.   

Media Contact:
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Youth Artists’ Chair presents To Kill a Mockingbird – Saturday, August 11

When her father, a lawyer, takes on the task of defending a black man against a potential death sentence, Scout’s sheltered existence from racial issues is turned upside down. Considered an American masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird illustrates the power of childhood innocence, morality and love. Presented by students in the Maltz Jupiter Theatre Youth Artists’ Chair program. Sponsored by the Clark Family Foundation. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 for students and $25 for adults. Please note that this production explores mature themes.

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