Boca Raton theater legend Jan McArt dies

BOCA RATON — Jan McArt’s six-decade career took her to venues around the country and the world, singing opera and acting on Broadway stages and in supper clubs, appearing on national television shows such as “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” and “The Merv Griffin Show.”

Eventually, she ended up at Lynn University in Boca Raton, where in 2004 McArt because the first and only director of the theater arts program development.

But in South Florida, McArt may be best known for opening several theater venues, most notably the Royal Palm Dinner Theater in Boca Raton in 1977. That was the same year she moved there from New York. In doing so, she became a trailblazer in bringing locally produced professional theater to a region that saw little of that. The 250-seat venue in the round survived a fire in 1993 before closing in 2001. With good food and excellent productions, it elevated what dinner theaters traditionally were and attracted more upscale audiences. She often was proclaimed to be the First Lady of South Florida Theater.