Dear Friends,

Summer is over and, hopefully, cooler weather is on the horizon. We hope that the Labor Day holiday was a happy and safe one for all of Mr. Reynolds’ fans.

Here at the Institute, our classes are the number one place for casting agents seeking talented actors for local productions. Recently, students from Mr. Reynolds’ Master Class, Sherman Roberts’ Fundamentals of Acting Class, and Todd Vittum’s Improvisation Class have been cast in films without having to go through the audition process. The successful sold out performance of Managing Director Donna Carbone's play Shell of a Man was cast exclusively with students from the Institute.

For our students, the importance of attending class goes far beyond honing their craft. Ay Langdon, a Fundamentals of Acting student, booked an Internet spokesperson role when a representative of Motion Pixel Media attended an Improv class and found her talents to be just what they were looking for. Missing class could be a missed opportunity to advance a career.

So far this year, Mr. Reynolds has graced three feature films with his marvelous talent. As a result, many people have inquired where they can find some of his more recent movies for their viewing pleasure. Several, including Hollow Creek and Hamlet and Hutch, are available through various on-demand sites like Netflix. If you want to catch some of the oldies but goodies, Me TV is currently running episodes of Gunsmoke featuring Mr. Reynolds in his recurring role of Quint Asper. Rosarian Academy will host a fundraiser for the Institute by welcoming Florida’s favorite son, Burt Reynolds, to their stage at the Picotte Fine Arts Center on Saturday evening, October 15. Prior to a showing of Reynolds’ hit movie Hooper, there will be a 30 minute Q&A with questions submitted by the audience. Details on how to purchase tickets are available elsewhere in the newsletter.

It was a bittersweet parting when Taylor Blackwell came to her final master class last week. Taylor started at the Institute as a child actor and, now, as a rising talent, she is off to California to pursue her dreams. Auditions are already in place and we have no doubt that success will follow. On behalf of Mr. Reynolds, the staff and students of the Burt Reynolds Institute for Film and Theater, we wish her nothing but the best!

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 or call 561-743-9955.

FUNDAMENTALS of ACTING with Sherman Roberts
Sundays at 1PM in the Lake Park Mirror Ballroom. Each Fundamentals class is split into two sections. The first half of the class is dedicated to scene study in which students will work with a different partner on stage each week. After a scene has been performed, students are given redirect by our instructor, Sherman Roberts. They are then encouraged to take the scene home and work on with the intention of performing it again the next week. The second half of the class is Acting for the Camera. Sherman will provide short scenes from movies, television shows and commercial which will be taped and played back. During the playback portion, Sherman will give redirect. Individual classes cost $30 per week. Students paying for a month in advance will pay $25/week ($100 per month). Payment must be made on the first Sunday of every month.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 and 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 Call 561-743-9955 or email to RSVP

This two hour one-on-one class is individualized for your needs and designed with the busy professional in mind. Learn to speak in a clear, confident manner with or without the aid of a teleprompter. Even those who have already successfully faced an audience will gain greater confidence mastering the skills of highly trained key note speakers. Be more than you ever thought you could be! Class size limited. Cost: $150 Call 561-743-9955 or email to RSVP

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 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 for the Burt Reynolds Institute is PO Box 264, Jupiter, FL 33458



Due to scheduling conflicts, the retrospective of Mr. Reynolds' 55-year career scheduled for November 15 at the Eissey Campus/Palm Beach State College has been postponed. Watch for updates. The event is expected to be back on the calendar in March of 2017. Please check our newsletters and website for more information as it becomes available.


HooperRosarian Academy will welcome movie star and Florida’s favorite son Burt Reynolds to their stage at the Picotte Fine Arts Center on Saturday evening, October 15. Prior to a showing of Reynolds’ hit movie Hooper, there will be a 30 minute Q&A with questions submitted by the audience. In a recent interview, Reynolds, who is well-known for his quick wit and self-deprecating sense of humor, said that he appreciates these opportunities to connect directly with his fans. “I never know what questions will be asked. Sometimes I think my fans know more about my life than I do. Anticipation keeps me on my toes.”

Hooper, an action/comedy film released in 1978, was directed by Reynolds’ good friend, the late Hal Needham, and also stars Sally Field, Jan-Michael Vincent, Brian Keith, Robert Klein, James Best and Adam West. The film pays homage to stuntmen and stuntwomen who, at one time, were unrecognized and unappreciated in the movie industry.

In September 2015, Reynolds was honored with the Richard Farnsworth Diamond Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions supporting stuntman in the film industry. In his acceptance speech he said that “… being honored by my fellow stuntmen—the people I believe deserve much more credit than they have ever been given for making a good movie great—is one of the highlights of my life.”

Reynolds’ film career includes memorable performances as Lewis Medlock in the controversial film Deliverance and Bo “Bandit” Darville of Smokey and the Bandit fame. The Academy Award nominee and Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner has enjoyed enormous success not only as an actor but also as a producer and director in feature films, television and stage productions. Reynolds has been recognized as America's Favorite All Around Motion Picture Actor winning the People’s Choice Award a record six consecutive years. The National Association of Theatre Owners presented him with Star of the Year recognition and named him the Most Popular Star for five years running. He was also named the #1 Box Office Star for five years in a row—still an unmatched record.

Robert Sherman, the Director of Rosarian’s Theatre Arts Program, is also an instructor at the Burt Reynolds Institute for Film and Theatre. Having Reynolds, whom he considers a mentor and friend, appearing at Rosarian is a dream come true. “For many years, I’ve wanted to introduce Burt Reynolds to our students. Much of what I know as a teacher and a professional actor I learned from him. His movies are timeless, fun and a visual reminder that, if you love what you do for a living, it will show in your performance.”

The movie event will begin at 7:30 pm with the Q&A followed by the showing of Hooper at 8PM. Tickets are $35 and are available at:

By Donna Carbone

Anticipation is a funny thing. While mostly a joyous experience, it can also be tinged with anxiety and fear. I am sure you can remember what it was like to be a child anxiously waiting for Santa Claus. We were so excited by the thought that Santa would be sliding down the chimney or coming through the front door with a sack full of presents that rewarded a year of good behavior. But wait… were we actually on our best behavior for twelve solid months? Naughty or nice – how would Santa judge our efforts. Even children know that perfection is unattainable no matter how hard they try.

That seesaw of joy and fear is one I rode for the five months leading up to the presentation of my play, Shell of a Man, on September 1. Christmas truly did come early for me this year, but the many weeks prior to the show were a mix of positive and negative emotions I have never before experienced. Shell of a Man was presented as a dinner theater production at Another Broken Egg Café (ABE) at Harbourside Place in Jupiter before a sold out crowd. It was a success – a far greater success than I ever could have imagined – and as jubilant as I am, that jubilance is tempered by the fact that I did not get there alone. Many people deserve to be acknowledged for helping me to jump the hurdles in my path and, eventually, to realize my dream. Allow me to start with the man who made this play possible by sharing his life story with me and touching my heart so deeply that I am never able to forget his words. His name is Robert and, while I know his surname, I will never reveal it out of respect for his privacy. We have never met face to face. I hear his voice only through the emails we have exchanged for five years. Those emails were generated by two editorials I wrote in 2011 supporting better healthcare for our veterans, particularly those suffering with PTSD. Robert, a Vietnam veteran, wrote to me, expressing his thanks and beginning what was to become a much cherished and, often, painful friendship.

Robert shared details of his life that few others know. His words left me heavy hearted and longing to help. In a sense, he was the ultimate Santa Claus because the trust he put in me is the greatest gift I have ever received. Robert is black. He has tasted the prejudice of a Southern upbringing. He became a husband, father, soldier and law enforcement office. He rose to be a union president and “fell” into janitorial service. He saw death and wished to die. He survived.

The more Robert revealed to me about his life, the more I realized that, even being an educated person, I knew nothing about life in a culture I had never experienced. I wanted… I needed… to share his story with others and, with his permission, Shell of a Man was born in an attempt to bring awareness to the needs of our veterans and pay homage to the men and women who have made the privileged life we live possible. However, Robert’s story goes deeper. It is timely because now, while the media seems focused on convincing us that blacks and whites will never be friends, it proves that one small kind act from an unexpected source can influence a life forever.

But… writing Shell of a Man was just the first step. Once the play was completed, I began looking for venues open to the idea of presenting it. In April 2015, The Black Academy of Arts and Letters (TBAAL) – one of the largest and most reputable black performing arts troupes in the country – selected Shell of a Man for their Spotlight on Playwrights series. TBAAL is housed within the Dallas Convention Center and that is where some very talented actors breathed life into my words for the first time. To write about that experience would require more space than this editorial provides. Suffice it to say that I learned we are much more alike than we are different and, again, Robert gave me a gift more valuable than gold.

After Dallas, I struggled to find another venue willing to showcase Robert’s story. I met one brick wall after another. The plight of our veterans, especially those suffering with PTSD, is a touchy subject. Many artistic directors told me that people don’t go to the theater to be reminded that other people are suffering. What was I to do?

Here is where fate comes into play. In April 2014, I hosted a grand opening for a new client and through that event I met the very wonderful people at Allied Capital and Development (ACD) – the company that manages Harbourside Place. That meeting led to a friendship which, eventually, led to an invitation to host a book signing for my first novel at Another Broken Egg Café. Beignets, Coffee and Conversation, the name we gave the event, was a hit and paved the way for Shell of a Man. Thanks to the support and encouragement of Connie Kartell, Sarah Lott and John Hamma of ACD’s management team and thanks to the warm welcome of managers and wait staff at Another Broken Egg Café, Shell of a Man found a home.

But… that was just the second step. Producing a play is a long, tedious, frustrating, high/low experience that can drain even the most determined individuals. The date for the play was set twice and cancelled twice. Finding someone qualified to portray Robert on stage was proving to be a nearly impossible task. Then, once again, fate stepped in when one Sunday morning a tall, handsome black man walked across a parking lot in my direction and said he wanted to take acting lessons. Since I am the Managing Director of the Burt Reynolds Institute for Film and Theatre, I welcomed him with open arms but not before asking, “Where have you been for the last six months!!” I had found my Robert. Now I needed two female actors. One was a slam dunk. I knew her talent and her beauty was exactly what I was looking for. The other was more difficult because she needed to not only be able to handle the role but she also needed to physically resemble the first actor. Again, I found my second beautiful and talented actor at the Institute. With deep gratitude I want to thank Ewan Leslie, Jeanne Tidwell and Lee Marlow for their passion, dedication and commitment to me, Robert and Shell of a Man.

We began rehearsals. While I was meeting with my actors three days a week, my husband Mike was designing and creating a stage upon which the play would be presented. The stage needed to be constructed to exact measurements so that it would fit into the space allotted at ABE Café, and it needed to be strong enough that a herd of elephants could tap dance on it without injury. I also needed to begin marketing the event. There were flyers to distribute, posters to design, programs to prepare, scenery and sets to gather, transportation requirements (that herd of elephants was cumbersome and heavy) to consider, menus to approve, tickets orders to track and a production team to put together. I was feeling overwhelmed. Did I mention that I wasn’t sleeping more than two or three hours a night? Anticipation can also keep you awake with thoughts of failure running through your mind.

And that’s when I learned the value of friendship. Another great talent from the Burt Reynolds Institute, Kevin Mayle, offered to design the poster for the show. Kevin also designs the covers for all of my books. He is a marvelous illustrator/artist. Writer/producer/director Gabe Tullier, owner of The Rising Creative, and Tracy Heard, sound engineer extraordinaire, quickly agreed to handle lights, sound and cameras. Patty Serrano, owner of Little Panther Prompting, joined us as teleprompter instructor/operator. My dear friends, Arlene Love, Gale Richards and Nadine Edery volunteered to be stage managers. And always at my side was my husband whispering words of encouragement. He truly is the wind beneath my wings.

All those months of preparation… all the frustrations and setbacks (including losing power at the restaurant on the afternoon of the show)… all the sleepless nights were forgotten as the lights came up on Robert Logan (Ewan Leslie) doing his opening monologue. I looked into the audience and saw people riveted at the edges of their seats. I saw women dabbing tears from their eyes, men fighting not to cry, and, perhaps most importantly, I saw a veteran of 28 years of military service – a man suffering with PTSD -- nodding his head over and over again in agreement with what was being revealed.

Nothing of value in life is ever achieved alone. This editorial is my heartfelt thank you note to all those who made Shell of a Man possible, including Brightman Brock of the Jupiter Courier, who graciously carried an article on the event and placed contact information in the paper’s weekly calendar. Word of the play has spread and I am receiving invitations to present it at other venues. Shell of a Man is truly the gift that keeps on giving, and I hope it continues to give for years to come… until PTSD is a thing of the past and our veterans receive the honor and care they deserve. I also hope the day comes when I meet the real Robert face to face. I’ve been itching to hug him for a very long time.


Check out our e-shop at 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

If you prefer the audio version, you can purchase that online, too:


Megan Zwaans, a Fundamentals of Acting student, was cast in a national commercial for Universal Studios and earned the lead role in the upcoming play, Surfing the Rubicon, at the Willow Theatre in Boca Raton. The dates for the production are November 11, 12, 18, and 19 at 8PM and November 13 and 20 at 2PM. For tickets, contact the box office at: 561-347-3948.

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 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!


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 To order merchandise, visit our online store at Friend and follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

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