Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Last Year on the Theatre Scene.

Reviewing the Theatre Scene, I see that Christine Dolen has her year in review up. I won't recapitulate it, just go read it.

Of course, the loss of Bruce Adler and Jack Zink can't go unremarked; they've left a hole in the fabric of the South Florida theatre scene that might eventually heal, but will never be filled.

Looking back to last year's closing Theatre Scene entries, I have to note the passing of "The Hapsters."  Hap Erstein left the Palm Beach Post, and he has no clear successor.  Charles Passy and Kevin Thompson seem to be trading off, and the theatre-going readership suffers for it.  I've said it before, and I will say it again; we need each newspaper to provide a single coherent voice.  If it's going to be Kevin, fine. If it's going to be Charles, fine.  But pick one already, and give your readers the supporting structure they deserve.

But at least the Post has someone; the sorry mess that constitutes the management of the Sun-Sentinel hasn't been at all responsible to the needs of its readers OR the community.  Yes, Jack Zink left big shoes to fill.  But leaving them buried in the closet while occasionally doling out a few inadequate inches of space to Bill Hirschman or Mary Damiano (or that drooling idiot fashion editor) simply doesn't make the cut.  Hire Bill or Mary, or hire someone else.  But hire someone.

The lack of a theatre reviewer at the Post and the Sun-Sentinel have made it almost impossible to find their reviews; so in February, what had been simply a list of shows that were playing became a list of reviews, with a brief synopsis, and periodically, reviews of those reviews.  You may have noticed I'm not reviewing the reviews quite so much; I'm still picky, so I think the quality of reviews has improved.  Maybe it was just the natural course of evolution; you'll have to decide that for yourselves.

2008 saw the Theatre League of Florida step up and take a leadership role in saving the Carbonell Awards for 2009.  The League was able to gain a consensus of the producers of South Florida Theatre, convincing the Carbonell Committee that we do take these awards very seriously.  Hopefully, we'll see more of this in the coming year.

On a personal note, I left a job that had become increasingly unpleasant under the most inept management I have ever encountered.  I now have a dream job with one of the most successful arts centers on the planet.  It's allowed me to regain a semblance of sanity, and time to get out once and awhile.  I had some chances to see the theatre I've been reporting, and I expect to get out even more in 2009.

I hope that you, too, find time to take in more plays in 2009.  There's some great stuff coming up; don't miss it!


  1. Thanks, but reports of the passing of The Hapsters has been exaggerated. They are alive and well as Palm Beach Arts Paper (, a website created by former Palm Beach Post arts writers that hopes to also have a newsprint version in early 2009. The Hapsters for 2008 have recently been posted.

    Hap Erstein

  2. Glad to hear it! This is the first I've heard of the project, but I will add you to the sidebar, and to my weekly sift of reviews for The Scene. Have a great new year, Hap!