Monday, October 20, 2008

Reviewing the PALM BEACH POST and the SUN SENTINEL

Earlier this month, I pointed out that the Palm Beach Post hadn't printed any coverage of theater since Hap Erstein left.  Last week, the Post finally stepped up and posted some stories about local theatre.  While neither is ascribed to a "Post Theater Reviewer," at least they are printing SOMETHING about the goings-on in the dozen or so theatres in Palm Beach County.

Charles Passy has reviewed classical music in the past, so he may well be a good fit as a theatre critic. He's not actually been identified as the new theater critic as far as I can see, but the page also contains a story titled "Charles Passy's theater picks," draw your own conclusions.

Another story is simply attributed to "Palm Beach Post Staff," but there are also some stories by Kevin D. Thompson.  This might be a workable team: one to do all the reviews, another to write about the people behind the plays.

Meanwhile, the Sun-Sentinel seems to be sporadically swaying from random free-lancers to wire stories about plays across the country.  This won't wash, Sun-Sentinel! If we really want to know about the current Broadway production of All My Sons, we'll use the internet to read reviews in New York Papers; don't waste our time regurgitating other people's news.  South Florida is a major metropolitan area, and we deserve news coverage of our home town arts scene, including the very active theatre scene.

Here's the deal, Post and Sentinel editors: if you write the stories, I will tell the world that they are there.  I've demonstrated that there is 52 weeks of theatre in South Florida, now you need to step up to the plate and deliver 52 weeks of theatre coverage.


  1. Appreciate your interest in our coverage. A few things you should know...:

    I've actually been covering arts of all forms for the paper for 16 years, including theater. I've served on the Carbonells, filled in for Hap on those rare times he took a vacation, write occasional columns about theater and have interviewed most of the theater professionals in our area. These days, I'm probably better known as the paper's restaurant critic and food writer -- I've not covered classical music actively for more than a decade -- but I cut my teeth going to Off Off Broadway shows in NYC as a child. I assure you that I don't take my theater responsibilities lightly.

    As far as how much coverage we can do minus Hap (a friend of mine), well, we'll see. All papers are in a tough spot these days. I hope to be doing the bulk of the reviewing and hitting up most of the major productions. Kevin Thompson will be advancing a number of shows. And others will pitch in as well.

    I don't think any paper in the country today can say they're doing the same level of arts coverage they were a year or two ago, let alone five or 10 years ago. But we're going to giving it our best shot.

    In the future, feel free to contact me at the Post if you have any questions about our coverage --

    Charles Passy

  2. Glad to know that there is someone officially covering theater for the post.

    While I do understand that the dissipating coverage by newspapers is a national problem, I also understand what few publishers seem to grasp: you guys sell NEWS. If you're not gathering it, you got nothing to sell. No one is going to spend money to ready nothing but a collection of wire stories, a fact supported by the way readership falls away following newsroom layoffs.

    BTW, I moved out of Palm Beach ten years ago, and I have since only followed Erstein's reviews in the Post, so that's why I was unaware of your change of mandate.

    Welcome to the Scene: may you prosper here.