Dear Friends,

We had a stellar year with our classes in acting, improvisation, creative writing, character development, and teleprompter, as well as special classes with Jo Ann Pflug. All of our classes were well attended. If you attended in any of our classes, we thank you and invite you to bring along your fellow actors in 2016. ​

O​ur mentor, Mr. Reynolds, made worldwide news with the release of his new ​memoir​ But Enough About Me, available everywhere. ​H​is appearances on every major broadcast media ​were​ view​ed​ and loved by millions around the world. His comments and insights were at the top of everyone's list and were trending on social media worldwide. His book made the​ New York Times​ Bestseller list, The Wall Street Journal​ list, and ​the ​audio ​book ​version ​hit #4 on Publisher's Weekly​​ list. Those who have read the book will agree on how touching it is, but to hear the emotion ​in Mr. Reynolds voice​ as he speaks his own words in the audio book version is a completely different experience ​and is highly recommended. If you have a chance, check it out.

Our ultimate goal of having a new Museum and Theater took giant strides this year with our fundraising effo​​rts. You can still participate ​in the Dream Giveaway raffle ​by going to ​www.WinBandit.com.​ Everyone who buys a ticket has the opportunity to be a winner. Gene Kennedy and Dave Hall both deserve mention for their ongoing work and for their efforts at the Carlyle Auto Funfest, which also helped us move toward the new location in Burt Reynolds Park. ​

The Master Class reality show is now fully in development, and with other projects on the horizon--including live and filmed performances directed by Mr. Reynolds--2016 is promising to be a bigger and better year! Stay tuned ​as the Institute continues to move forward, providing educational opportunities in film, television, and on stage, as well as preserving Mr. Reynolds' memorabilia and the history of the film industry.

Happy New Year!

Douglas Rill
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Burt Reynolds Institute for Film and Theatre


MASTER ACTING CLASS with Burt Reynolds
By invitation only. Students must complete a required number of Fundamentals of Acting classes and reach a certain level of expertise. For inquiries, please email Donna Carbone at info@burtreynoldsinstitute.org or call 561-743-9955.

FUNDAMENTALS of ACTING for ADULTS with Sherman Roberts
Sundays at 1PM Fundamentals of Acting continues to fill the Mirror Ballroom with actors at every level of expertise. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate performer, or experienced actor, Fundamentals will allow you to hone your craft in a welcoming and nurturing atmosphere. This is a scene study class in which students are given the opportunity to perform a ten minute scene on stage each week followed by redirect from the instructor, Sherman Roberts. Roberts, who is a member of SAG, AFTRA and AEA, has appeared in a variety of roles on stage, in film and on network television. He teaches student how to choose the right material, how to interpret dialogue so that the spoken word is true to what the author has written, character development and body language. The class meets every Sunday at 1PM. The cost is $25/week.

Thursdays at 7:30PM Improvisation Plus, taught by master improvisational artist Todd Vittum, offers budding and experienced comedians an opportunity to hone their impromptu speaking and acting skills. Vittum has been teaching Improv for many years and is himself an experienced performer. He has designed innovative scenarios that make the imagination come alive. Under his excellent tutelage, laughter and learning go hand in hand. The class meets on Thursday evenings at 7:30PM in the Mirror Ballroom. Cost: $25/week.

SIDE-BY-SIDE (IMPROV) with Todd Vittum
Saturdays from 10AM-noon Todd Vittum teaches the ever popular Side-By-Side on Saturday mornings from 10AM to noon. This class offers adults and children between the ages of 10 and 15 an opportunity to share the stage in a nurturing and fun environment. The class incorporates monologue delivery, scene study, and improvisation for a well-rounded experience. Cost: $20/week.

CREATIVE WRITING for the AUTHOR in ALL of US with Donna Carbone
Tuesdays at 6:30PM Creative Writing for the Author in All of Us is a weekly offering for everyone with a story to tell. Whether you are writing a novel, short narrative, screenplay, stage play or poem, if words are your oxygen, this is the class for you. Under the instruction of author/journalist Donna Carbone, the class utilizes a supportive “think tank” structure. Each week writers present their work, which is read and shared with the class. Critiques are offered as a means of moving a story from conception to completion. The class meets on Tuesday evenings at 6:30PM in the Commission Chambers. Cost: $25/week. Limit: 10 students.

Mondays at 7PM (except for the first Monday of each month)
Todd Vittum teaches an advanced class in scene study and character analysis, which includes intermediate and advanced acting techniques. The class will be offered three Monday evenings a month. Please note that there will NOT be a class on the first Monday of each month. There WILL BE classes on the second, third, and fourth Mondays of each month. The off week will give students an opportunity to perfect whatever scene or monologue they are working on for presentation in class. Students are required to bring their own scenes and should provide three copies—one for the student, one for the scene partner, and one for the instructor. Learning to choose material that is right for you is part of your training. If you have any questions, the instructor will be able to help you decide on the proper material. A 2-3 minute monologue is required for the first class. This class will allow actors to hone their acting skills while providing an opportunity to study scene structure and character development. Scene study is the foundation of all performance and is instrumental if actors are to develop an emotional connection to the character they are portraying. Scene study is also used to teach the vocabulary of acting and how to respond to a director’s instructions. Character analysis helps an actor to understand the role they are playing. To be successful, an actor must replace their personality with that of the character being portrayed. However, it is still necessary for an actor to allow their natural emotional response to a situation to show through at appropriate times. The ability to blend the real and the imagined creates a more stable and dynamic character. For the moment, the class will be held in in the Commission Chambers. Cost: $25/week.

Sundays from 1:30PM to 3:30PM
Learn how to be the perfect pitch person/spokesperson using professional techniques and insiders secrets in this six-week interactive course. Become a pro at cold reads and in depth presentations. Becomes friends with the camera—put your body and face to work for you. Become proficient at walk and talk, partner pairing and turning boring into brilliant. Master on set etiquette and understand the importance of packing a survival bag. Look and feel like a pro! Class size limited. Cost: $150.


Please note: prior registration and RSVP are required for all classes, seminars, and workshops--as some have limited enrollment. Class times/locations subject to change. For information and registration, please contact Donna Carbone at 561-743-9955 or email info@burtreynoldsinstitute.org to RSVP now.

Burt Reynolds Institute classes and seminars are held at Lake Park Town Hall (Mirror Ballroom), 535 Park Avenue, Lake Park, FL 33403. Please note, this is not the mailing address. The mailing address is: PO Box 264, Jupiter, FL 33458


Long time fan, Kathy Banfield, is hoping to honor her favorite movie star (and ours) in a very special way. She recently contacted the Institute to let us know that she is championing a Reynolds Acts of Kindness Day to honor Burt Reynolds on his 80th birthday. Her letter is reprinted below. Please join us in giving this unique gift to the man who has given us countless hours of entertainment during the last 55 years:

By Kathy Banfield

Every year I attempt to find a unique way to celebrate Mr. Reynolds’ birthday – a way which shows him how much he is loved and appreciated. For five years, I’ve administered Facebook’s Burt Reynolds: Fans and Friends page, and in that time numerous people have told me stories proving that Mr. Reynolds’ impact on his fans goes beyond the thousands of hours of enjoyment brought by his films. Many people – the famous, the average, friends and fans alike – have shared stories that are heartwarming and, yes, amazing. I am among those people.

On February 11, 2016, Mr. Reynolds will celebrate his 80th birthday. To honor him, I am hereby decreeing (unofficially, of course) February 11th to be "Reynolds Acts Of Kindness Day." The concept is simple. I am asking that everyone whose life has been positively impacted by Mr. Reynolds pay it forward by doing a random act of kindness for someone in need. Perhaps, you know someone who is alone and lonely – pick up the phone/knock on their door/say “Hello.” Do you know someone in need of groceries or transportation to the doctor – buy bread, milk, eggs (something nourishing) or offer to give them a ride. Mow the lawn. Take out the trash. Walk their dog. Little things do mean a lot to a lot of people.

Not only will your kindness be reflected in the eyes of the people you help, it will be a wonderful way to honor Mr. Reynolds and show him how he has impacted the lives of people all over the globe. This is a gift that needs no other wrapping than a smile!

Please share your Reynolds Acts Of Kindness on social media using the hashtag #ReynoldsActsOfKindnessDay. Thank you.

- Kathy Banfield


By Donna Carbone

Through Thick and ThinDonna M. Carbone, a freelance writer/teacher/journalist living in Palm Beach Gardens, has been writing and winning awards since the third grade. In April of this year, she was honored by The Black Academy of Arts and Letters with a performance of her play, Shell of a Man, at the Dallas Convention Center. Locally she has written an opinion column for a northern Palm Beach County publication for four years and her name is often seen in guest editorials for another recognized north county newspaper. She was a Scenemaker of the Week in the Palm Beach Post in 2012. More often than not, her topic of choice is crimes against women and the need to take responsibility for personal safety in a troubled world. She often references the rape of her daughter, Jessica Carbone McKinney, in 2007 as proof that she knows what she is talking about. Wanting to reach a wider audience, Carbone decided to write a series of crime novels using real events, colorful characters and Palm Beach County as focal points. The first in her series of Cat Leigh and Marci Welles crime novels, Through Thick and Thin, is available in paperback and for Kindle through amazon.com.

In a recent interview, Carbone admitted there is a method to her madness. She wants to keep women safe, to teach – not preach –about shared accountability. She also hopes to restore some of the respect to local law enforcement which has been lost in the onslaught of negative publicity. “When Jess was so brutally attacked, it was the involvement of the North Palm Beach Police Department and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office that restored our faith in mankind. Without the guidance of these men and women, I don’t think we would have survived the ordeal mentally and emotionally intact. I know there are “bad” people in every walk of life, but I do believe that the majority of officers take their oath to protect and serve very seriously.”

Carbone offered a teaser to whet readers’ appetites. When long-time friends Cat Leigh and Marci Welles become partners in the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Homicide Division, the pairing seems preordained. Although written under one title, Through Thick and Thin is actually two distinct books. The prologue and epilogue, set in 2006, cover the tracking and capture of the Kalendar Killer who murdered five people in public places under brutal circumstances on national holidays. The main portion of the book, set in 2007, see Cat and Marci responding to the scene of a possible murder on a closed beach. They discover that the victim is a lifeguard who was loved by many women and hated by many more. The investigation reveals that, at least, 800 women have been laid and played by the victim and each is a willing subject in a book his ex-wife has written about her years of marriage misery. At the same time, a series of rape/murders takes over the headlines. As Cat is a rape survivor, her perspective is a valuable part of the investigation. The book is based on the real life friendship between two strong women, my daughter (Cat Leigh), and the other the CSI, Mary Bedwell Bain (Marci Welles), who helped to capture Jess’ attacker.

With a twinkle in her eyes, Carbone added, “As many people know, I’ve been the Managing Director of the Burt Reynolds Institute for Film and Theatre for quite a few years. I purposely set Through Thick and Thick in 2006 so that I could use the Burt Reynolds Museum as a location and allow it to play a part in solving some of the crimes. After all, you can’t write about Florida and, in particular, Palm Beach County, without mentioning Burt The second Cat Leigh and Marci Welles crime novel – Silk Suit/Stone Heart – is in the works. Carbone is also developing a new stage play, The Intersection of Lincoln and Parks, which presents a meeting between Rosa Parks and Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith, Abraham Lincoln’s great grandson and last direct descendant.

For more information, visit: www.writeforyoullc.com or contact Donna M. Carbone at write4you@comcast.net. Photo: Donna M. Carbone Credit: Jessica Carbone McKinney Book Jacket: Donna M. Carbone Credit: Jessica Carbone McKinney


Check out our e-shop at www.burtreynoldsinstituteapparel.org and purchase awesome items for you and/or your loved ones! Great gifts for you, your family, and friends!


This memoir tells his story through the people he’s encountered on his amazing journey. In his words, he plans to “call out the assholes,” try to make amends for “being the asshole myself on too many occasions,” and pay homage to the many heroes he has come to love and respect.

But Enough About Me is a must read for each and every Burt Reynolds fan.

If you have not yet ordered your copy of Burt Reynolds’ memoir, But Enough About Me, orders can be placed at www.amazon.com/But-Enough-About-Me-Memoir/dp/0399173544.


By Donna Carbone

William Shakespeare is credited with having said, “The wheel has come full circle.” Thanks to a genuine act of kindness during a rare and recent hometown concert, Hollywood actor/songwriter/singer Ronny Cox came to understand the truth behind old Will’s words. For you, the reader, to appreciate their meaning, we must go back in time a quarter of a century.

Sean Dillon was eight years old when the Hollywood blockbuster Deliverance was released. He estimates that another 10 years passed before he actually saw the film. By then, the shock value was gone. He knew the story and had heard descriptions of the rape scene many times. It wasn’t the controversy surrounding the movie that caused him to finally watch it on television but rather an interest in the folklore and the ethical dilemma faced by the characters. He was impressed by their ability to harness the depth of courage needed to survive and fascinated by their ability to not only restrain but completely suppress any pangs of guilt they may have felt for their role in the death of other human beings.

As fate would have it, a few years after seeing Deliverance, Sean was making ends meet by working in the Vroman’s Bookstore across the street from the Pasadena Playhouse. When he heard the Playhouse was holding an auction, he decided to wander over during his lunch hour and see what items were being offered. Much to his surprise, the guitar that Cox had played in the film was on display. Although the bid Sean placed was meager by some standards, it was enough to make him the new owner.

Over the next 25 years, Sean did a lot of traveling in pursuit of his dreams, sometimes taking the guitar with him and other times entrusting it to family members. He saw the instrument as an interesting piece of Hollywood history which he would bring out to show his friends from time to time. He never actually played a tune on it until recently when he had repairs made to the damages suffered during filming.

As most movie buffs know, Deliverance is the story of four Atlanta businessmen who decide to commune with nature by taking a canoe trip into extremely rural northern Georgia. All goes well until treacherous white water rapids drop the foursome into the remote backwoods far from civilization as they know it. Upon meeting the locals, an uncomfortable tingling sends their nervous systems into overdrive. They grow suspicious and wary, quickly recognizing that in this world of predator and prey, they are the prey.

Ronny Cox is a consummate storyteller. He is not one to hog the spotlight but, rather, prefers to share it with his audience. On one particular Friday, he shared an hour of his time with me, speaking in a rush of words quite the opposite of the soothing melodic voice I hear when listening to him sing. He was in California. I was in Florida. We were connected by telephone wires, but as he spoke, I felt myself drawn across the miles. Somehow, I was sitting right beside

Cox was a struggling New York stage actor when he was cast in Deliverance. The year was 1971 and, along with Florida’s favorite son Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight and long-time friend Ned Beatty, he was chosen to bring author James Dickey’s novel to life on screen. Picture in your mind the scene where Cox is playing guitar opposite the young banjo player sitting on the porch. Hold that image for that is where this story actually begins.

Director John Boorman chose Cox to embody the mild-mannered Drew Ballinger, a sensitive man who was also an inexperienced outdoorsman. Both those qualities would prove to be Ballinger’s undoing. After days and nights fighting an unwelcoming wilderness and its inhabitants, Ballinger falls into the fictional Cahulawassee River and drowns.

In doing my research for this article, I learned a little known but interesting trivia tidbit. When the body of Drew Ballinger is found near the end of the film, his arm is twisted around his neck in a manner not natural to the human body. That scene was not written into the script. Cox, who has double-jointed shoulders, suggested the positioning to Boorman, which confirmed further for the director that he had, indeed, hired the right actor for the role.

Luckily, as the fictional Ballinger was going under for the third time, Cox’s star was rising. With total sincerity, he told me, “The movie changed my life in so many ways.”

When asked how the guitar came to be offered for the Playhouse fundraiser, Cox said that he was performing at the theater at the time and so was aware of their need for financial support. Since the guitar had been gathering dust in his house since production on the film wrapped, he decided to give it to them. He did not realize the emotional impact giving the guitar away would.

When Sean Dillon placed his bid, he gave little thought to why Ronny Cox had parted with the guitar although he did consider the donation an extremely generous and unselfish act. He never viewed the instrument in terms of monetary value, especially since it was inexpensive by comparison to other brands of guitars and not in perfect condition.

Fast forward to September 2015. Sean is now an Associate Professor of Theatre Arts at the University of La Verne in La Verne, California. While surfing the net one day he learns that Cox will be giving a concert with his son, John, at the Crown Book Store in Topanga Canyon. Appearances such as this were rare for Cox. His concert schedule is heavy with travel dates and, as a result, he rarely performs in his home state.

The wheel had nearly made a full revolution.

Sean and his wife attended the concert. They brought the guitar along in the hope that Cox would autograph it for them. At the end of the performance, Sean approached the man of the hour and asked if he recognized what he proudly held in his hands. “Sure,” Cox said, “that’s the guitar from Deliverance.”

A back and forth of conversation followed during which Cox revealed the significance of the guitar in his life and his regret at having given it away. Much to Sean’s surprise, Cox asked to buy the guitar back from him even offering to double whatever he had paid for it.

Since the successful release of Deliverance, Ronny Cox has appeared in a wide variety of productions, including Beverly Hills Cop, Total Recall, Taps, Bound For Glory and The Onion Field on the big screen and Apple’s Way on television. He rounds out his resume as an extremely talented musician... a singer/songwriter with eight CDs under his recording belt. Although he loves acting, music speaks to his soul. He brings a warm feeling of intimacy to his concerts, never shutting himself off from the audience but rather embracing them and including them in his performance.

When I asked Sean Dillon if Deliverance was in some way responsible for his career choice, he was honest in saying “No.” He admitted to being an amateur movie maker at a very young age; his 8mm camera never far from his reach. He also talked about teen angst... that feeling of not belonging so many adolescents experience... and how working in theater while in high school helped to give him confidence. For him, it was a natural transition to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in English and Theatre and a Masters of Fine Arts in Directing—degrees which allowed him to share his experiences and talents with his students.

It was also quite natural for Sean Dillon to return the Deliverance guitar to its original owner without monetary compensation. To him, the guitar was an important part of both film and music history but he did not have an emotional connection to it. To Cox, however, it represented the first day of the rest of his life. Sean was happy to be the catalyst for the reunion.

Ronny Cox was kind enough to share some details of his life with me. Born into a family that loved music, he was calling square dances by the time he was 10 and began playing guitar, including Texas Swing, in his early teens. While attending Portales High School in New Mexico, he sang with the school’s choral group which led to his being hired to sing backup on records for producer Norman Petty. Cox fondly recalled how Clovis, New Mexico, was a hot bed of recording during the late 1950s and early 1960s and how living just a few miles away allowed him to be around when Buddy Holly was cutting Peggy Sue and Jimmy Bowne and Buddy Knox recorded Party Doll just to name a few of the great recording artists of the time. With rock and roll gaining increasing popularity, he fronted his own band—Ron’s Rock Outs. In college, he fell in love with folk music and it has been his mainstay ever since.

When queried, Cox assured me that the Deliverance guitar now holds a place of honor in his home. Standing as sentinels on either side of his living room hearth, it joins the guitar he played in Cop Rock as a focal point in the room and his life. Not only do guitars symbolize Ronny Cox’s deep love for music and storytelling, they also remind him of the many wonderful people he has been privileged to know during his amazing career including one of my personal favorites, Burt Reynolds. The Deliverance guitar, in particular, will forever remind him of how a simple, unselfish gesture can brighten the world and bring our lives full circle.


Beverly Blanchette been cast as the Nurse in The Violet Hour--a Modern Medea with Outre' Theatre Company which will be performed at the Broward Center this March. "I'm excited to play the part that Dame Judith Anderson played opposite Zoe Caldwell in Broadway's Medea for which Caldwell received one of her four Tony Awards," she stated. "I studied three years with Caldwell in graduate school while working toward my MFA degree in acting/directing."

Are you a current or former student of the Burt Reynolds Institute for Film and Theatre or the Burt Reynolds Institute for Theatre Training? If so, we would love to hear from you! Simply write a one to two paragraph blurb and drop us an email at info@burtreynoldsinstitute.org before the 25 of each month (subject line: "In The Spotlight") and let us know what projects you are working on or have completed. PLEASE, NO EXTRA WORK!

SUBMISSIONS ARE DUE THE 25 OF EACH MONTH—no exceptions. We look forward to hearing about—and celebrating—your success!


Top stories you may have missed:


The Burt Reynolds Institute for Film and Theatre is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that is committed to educating and involving the community and artists in all aspects of film, television, theater, live performances, film festivals, and exhibitions, as well as preserving Mr. Reynolds' memorabilia and the history of the film industry.


Douglas Rill ... Chairman of the Board of Directors
Todd Vittum ... Executive Director
Donna Carbone ... Managing Director/Director of Finance/Newsletter Editor/Media Manager/PR
Gene Kennedy ... Director of Promotions/Co-Chair Building Committee
Karen Chimato ... Class Coordinator
Amy Schulz ... Multimedia Coordinator
Scott Kelley ... Web Design & Production
Carmen Magri ... Historian


For more information about classes, events, etc, visit our website at http://www.burtreynoldsinstitute.org. To order merchandise, visit our online store at www.burtreynoldsinstituteapparel.org. Friend and follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

The Burt Reynolds Institute for Film and Theatre
PO Box 264
Jupiter, FL 33458
561-743-9955 | info@burtreynoldsinstitute.org