Category Archives: Critics

Time to say goodbye

Today’s a day I never thought I’d see – the day I’m stowing away my critic’s shingle and hanging up my critic’s hat.

As of today, I’m giving up this blog and leaving theater criticism to others. Continue reading

Dennis Neal to play Louis Armstrong in world-premiere play

Dennis Neal

Orlando actor Dennis Neal will star as legendary jazzman Louis Armstrong in the world-premiere production of Satchmo at the Waldorf, author and Wall Street Journal theater critic Terry Teachout’s play based on his biography Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong.

Rus Blackwell will direct the play, which will have its first production at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center in Orlando Sept. 15-Oct. 2.

Neal, who has acted extensively around Central Florida (most recently as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol at the Garden Theatre and in Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s Shotgun), also will play Joe Glaser, Armstrong’s controversial manager, in the play about Armstrong’s final performance before his death.

Here’s information about the folks involved, who also include designer William Elliot:

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Looking for Fringe reviews? They’re here.

For those of you who subscribe to this blog, I realized over the weekend that my Fringe reviews aren’t coming to you in the normal way. It’s not interesting enough to explain in full, but the technicalities of the website don’t allow for the email that should be coming to you when I post each new review.

So if you’re interested in reading my Fringe reviews (there are 19 there now, and six or seven more to come before the end of the day), just go to my home page and look down the column on the right-hand side. You’ll see all the Fringe reviews listed there. Happy reading!

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Theater critics award top prize — again — to playwright Bill Cain

Bill Cain

For the second year in a row, New York playwright Bill Cain has won the $25,000 Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Award for a new play — this time for 9 Circles, a harrowing but ultimately uplifting play about war and redemption.

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Playwright Cori Thomas wins 2011 Osborn Award

Cori Thomas (photo courtesy of City Theatre Company, Pittsburgh)

Playwright Cori Thomas, a New York-based writer who has lived in seven countries, has won the American Theatre Critics Association’s M. Elizabeth Osborn Award for her play When January Feels Like Summer, a dark comedy about a multicultural neighborhood and its residents’ search for assimilation and identity.

Thomas will receive the $1,000 prize — meant to honor a playwright who has not yet won national attention — April 2 in Louisville, Ky., at the Humana Festival of New American Plays.

(I was one of the members of the ATCA awards committee that chose Thomas for this prize.)

Here’s more on Thomas and her play:

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Theater critics announce six finalists for $25,000 new-play prize

Six U.S. playwrights have been named as finalists in the 2010 Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association ATCA) New Play Award, a national competition run by ATCA, the professional organization of U.S. theater critics.

The six finalists are up for $40,000 in awards, including one $25,000 first-place award and two $7,500 citations. The awards go to the writers of the scripts judged to have been the best produced in a regional theater outside New York the previous year.

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Broadway’s ‘Spider-Man’ gets its reviews

After 2-1/2 months of previews and three opening nights postponed, theater critics from the country’s major newspapers have stepped in and written their reviews of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the $65-million musical that has become a running joke on Broadway.

And the word is not good.

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Critic/author Terry Teachout back at Rollins

Writer Terry Teachout, theater critic for the Wall Street Journal and author of the best-selling biography Pops, about Louis Armstrong, is back at Rollins College this month as part of the Winter Park Institute.

He’s already presented one program (the e-mail notice went out late) but has two more in store. Here they are (and theater fans may want to note that local actor Dennis Neal appears in the second of these programs):

Listen in

I’ll be on Jeremy Seghers’s radio show on WPRK (91.5) today from noon to 1. The talk will be about theater (I hope). Check it out.

Postcard from Broadway: ‘Fela!’

The first act of Fela!, about the late Nigerian musician Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, is a dance concert with political pretensions – a celebration of Kuti’s Afrobeat sound without any clear articulation of who he really was or why you should care.

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To hell with malice

For months now I’ve ignored the whiny, malicious opinions on Facebook of someone who calls himself or herself a critic in the Orlando theater community. I didn’t befriend the person, who will not admit who he or she really is. But many others have.

We all know, of course, that this person is not a critic. Being a critic does not mean simply putting your uninformed opinions out there, and it has very little to do with whom you report to or who pays your bills.

But that’s not the point. The point is that this person, who relies on nasty, snarky, not-very-funny comments about others in the theater community, must be stopped.

So, if you’re on Facebook, please unfriend Bee A Critic. Please block the person. And please report the person to Facebook for pretending to be someone who s/he is not and for cyberbullying.

This is serious, folks. There’s no place for this kind of meanness. It’s not funny. It hurts. And you can stop it.


Tony nominations announced

The musicals Fela! and La Cage aux Folles got the highest number of Tony nominations — 11 each — when the nominations were announced this morning in New York. A revival of August Wilson’s Fences got 10 nominations, and the musical Memphis — co-produced by Central Floridians Barbara and Buddy Freitag — won eight.

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Drama Pulitzer gets critics worked up

Overlooked in the announcements of the Pulitzer Prize yesterday was a small notice in the drama citation. Here’s the official wording, with boldface ended for emphasis:

For a distinguished play by an American author, preferably original in its source and dealing with American life, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).

Awarded to Next to Normal, music by Tom Kitt, book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, a powerful rock musical that grapples with mental illness in a suburban family and expands the scope of subject matter for musicals. (Moved into contention by the Board within the Drama category.)

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When everyone has an opinion, do we need critics?

You can probably guess what I think — and you can read this Washington Post column by Howard Kurtz.

‘Equivocation’ wins prestigious Steinberg/ATCA new-play award

A play about William Shakespeare, Bill Cain’s Equivocation, has won the 2009 Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, an annual prize that recognizes the best play produced in the U.S. outside New York City the previous year. Cain will get a prize of $25,000.

Two other playwrights, Donald Margulies and Karen Zacarias, won $7,500 citations in the annual contest — Margulies for Time Stands Still and Zacarias for Legacy of Light.

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Theater critics honor playwright Jason Wells

Chicago playwright Jason Wells has been named the winner of the 2010 American Theatre Critics Association’s M. Elizabeth Osborn Award, which honors an up-and-coming playwright.

The award recognizes Wells’s play Perfect Mendacity, which premiered last year at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota.

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Readers, we need readers

Just a quick post to tell you how to subscribe to this website.

Scroll down quite a ways and look on the right. There should be a button that says “email subscription.”

Click that, and you should be all set.


More about the theater potluck

OK, this is really embarrassing. My goal is to get all you theater people to come to the theater potluck from 7 to 10 p.m. Sunday March 21 — that’s a week from Sunday — at Orlando Rep.

The catch is it’s become a thing that’s supposed to celebrate me. (And I hate this picture. I’m sorry, but I do.)

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Theater critics announces finalists for national new-play award

The American Theatre Critics Association have named six finalists for the organization’s annual Steinberg/ATCA New Play Awards. The winner will receive a $25,000 prize, and two others will receive $7,500 apiece.

Winners will be announced March 27 at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, Ky.

A personal note: I’m on the panel of 13 critics who read all the submissions and chose these six finalists, and I wrote the essay for the forthcoming Best Plays Theatre Yearbook on last year’s winner, E.M. Lewis’s Song of Extinction.

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