Maltz Jupiter Theatre Teens to Produce, Perform RHINOCEROS

Almost 60 years since its premiere, the absurdist drama Rhinoceros is back - and it's as relevant as ever.

Praised as "an allegory for our times" by The New York Times, Eugène Ionesco's 1959 play will be produced and performed entirely by local students at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre for one night only on Saturday, August 13, at 7:30 p.m., on the Theatre's stage.

One of the major influences of absurdist theatre, the play explores the themes of conformity, culture, mass movements, mob mentality, philosophy and morality. It follows the residents of a small French town who begin to experience disconcerting run-ins with a raging rhinoceros. Events begin to take a strange turn as one by one, citizens are transformed into rhinoceroses. As the trampling becomes overwhelming and the animals destroy everything in their path, one man remains. But will he stay true to himself or follow the herd?

The New York Post raved that the play's "satirical humor, combined with its provocative theme and surprisingly moving ending" culminates in an unforgettable evening of theatre.

The play is the result of months of work by area middle and high school students who have spent their summer working with industry professionals at Florida's largest award-winning not-for-profit regional theatre to produce the play.

Known as the Youth Artists' Chair, the project aligns high school students with individual Theatre staff members for one-on-one mentoring and guidance during the creation process of the show. Through the free summer mentorship program, students have produced the dramas The Glass Menagerie, The Crucible, Hamlet, The Laramie Project and The Good Times are Killing Me since 2011.

After passing through an extensive interview and selection process, the student creative team consists of: Lauren Thomas (producer), 15, of Palm Beach Gardens; Abbie Levasseur (director), 17, of Jupiter; Emily Betts (stage manager), 16, of Jupiter; Alexander Goodwin-Elam (assistant stage manager), 12, of Hobe Sound; Shannon Komm (scenic designer), 15, of Jupiter; Skye Alyssa Friedman (Sound Designer), 14, of Jupiter; Chloe Laine-Lobsinger (lighting designer), 12, of West Palm Beach; Nicole Giddens (costume designer), 11, of Stuart; Madeline Gilbert (props master), 18, of Palm City; Dylan Lugosi (run crew), 14, of Palm Beach Gardens; Ashley Smith (public relations director), 14, of Jupiter; Taylor Buddemeier (public relations associate), 16, of Jupiter; and Natalie Beck (social media manager), 14, of Lake Worth.

The show's directors and producer also cast the show's young performers. They are: Leandre Thivierge (Berenger), 14, of West Palm Beach; Sophia Gonzalez (Logician/ Papillon), 16, of Jupiter; Annaya Osborne (Housekeeper/ Botard), 19,of West Palm Beach; Natalie Czochanski (Waitress/Dudard), 20, of Jupiter; Vincent Bolchoz (Jean), 18, of Jupiter; Kerstin Brown (Shopkeeper), 18, of Okeechobee; Mitchell Hockenson (Elegant Old Man), 14, of Jupiter; Kara Grozan (Daisy), 18, of Jupiter; and Katelyn Smallwood (Mrs. Boeuf/Boss), 15, of Jupiter.

"We are so grateful to be given the opportunity to produce an absurdist classic on the Maltz Jupiter Theatre's stage this summer," said the production's student director Abbie, a senior at Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts. "With crucial themes paralleling today's society,Rhinoceros is a story that everyone can learn from. As students and artists, this piece has allowed us to work together to create something truly special under the guidance of theatre professionals."

Rhinoceros is sponsored by The Clark Family Private Foundation Inc.

Tickets are on sale now for Rhinoceros, with one performance slated for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 13. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for students. For information about the show and to purchase tickets, visit www.jupitertheatre.org or call (561) 575-2223.



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