Andrew Kato, producing artistic director for Maltz Jupiter Theatre, would never criticize another South Florida theater company, especially for following its artistic vision. The fact remains, however, that the theater he oversees -- which just nabbed 23 nominations in the Carbonell Awards -- is flourishing while other South Florida theaters have shuttered their doors.
To what does Kato attribute Maltz's success in a region where three award-winning companies closed in 2012?
"We're creating consistent quality entertainment," Kato said. "Someone may not love our particular take on something, but they won't dispute the quality."
Kato also identifies Maltz's diverse offerings each season as being a key contributing factor in the theater's strong subscription base. Now in its tenth season, the theater has more than 7,530 subscribers and an annual budget of $5.5 million ($1.9 million of that is donated). The not-for-profit theater company recently launched a $10 million endowment campaign and is preparing to announce its 2013/2014 season on Monday, February 4.
Kato said one of the key aspects of "good producing is to know your audience." He said the diverse season speaks to the audience's interests. To that end, the theater strives for a balance in its lineups, being careful not to exceed the threshold for artistic boundary-pushing in any one season. For instance, a familiar big production musical like The Music Man may be matched with more challenging fare like Amadeus.
"On paper, the audience is more inclined to go on the journey with us, even if there's a drama or an unknown," said Kato, who has overseen more than 40 productions for Maltz and has served as creative consultant/coordinating producer for the Tony Awards for the past nine years.
When Kato first arrived at Maltz seven years ago "there was work to be done." As a "career producer" with years of on-the-job training, Kato helped to transform the company, though he's quick to credit board members, supporters, and staff for the theater's success.
"The staff is self-critical and they rarely say 'no'," Kato said. "When I look around and see the work product, it's literally jaw dropping; I'm astounded by it."
Doubt: A Parable, the next show in Maltz's current season, starts on Sunday, February 3, and continues through February 17.