Boy, time flies when you’re appreciating art. This is my 27th year creating my annual TicketHolder Awards, which began in the now defunct Beverly Hills Post over a quarter-century ago. I actually began reviewing theatre in El Lay exactly 32 years ago this month in what was then The Tolucan, now Tolucan Times—a publication the late-great Mr. Blackwell once complained when angry at our boss had a circulation of 20 blocks.
Doing graphic art for magazines and newspapers as a survival job, I pitched the Tolucan editor in January 1987 to write a review of a play which had opened in NoHo without any publicity, produced by a theatre company of which I was a member. The next week, I was asked if I’d be interested in writing another review for the paper and so my three-decade journey as a critic began. I was told then if I continued to write reviews I would virtually hammer in the final nail into the already battered coffin of my once promising acting career, but I never was one to listen to reason—obviously.
Along the way, I was editor of LA Theatre Magazine, served as Theatre Editor for Entertainment Today for 21 years, contributed monthly columns on both the music industry and Las Vegas entertainment for Salon City Magazine, and wrote weekly critiques for BackStage for 15 years before the greedy new owners decided to scrap theatre reviews on both coasts—in a publication called Backstage, mind you--and I've contributed to many other publications both left-coastal and national, many of which hosted my nomadic TicketHolder Awards over the years.
My stubborn and reckless determination that I could act and also write reviews as long as I did both with honesty and integrity proved its most gratifying in 2001 when I was awarded a LA Drama Critics Award for Leading Performance, meaning I’d finally earned the respect of my understandably wary colleagues, for my work as Joe Orton’s mentor-executioner-lover Kenneth Halliwell in the west coast premiere of Lanie Robertson’s Nasty Little Secrets.
Seeing my first effort as a playwright, Surprise Surprise, which debuted here in LA at the Victory Theatre Center, turned into a feature film in 2010 was also one more indication I was appreciated and so, despite earning the majority of my living these days coaching spoiled divas from the sidelines and teaching acting at New York Film Academy, I’m still wearing both of my original hats on a regular basis—although these days only if there happens to be the occasional need for a geriatric priest, a mentally incapacitated adult, or an old gay man with a long sad monologue.
All this is noted as I begin my 33rd year obsessing over such an unprofitable madness as supporting, defending, and creating art in a town where such noble efforts are hardly appreciated at all. So for the 27th time, I humbly offer my choices for the best work I've seen this year in these poor maligned desert climes by our stalwart little theatrical community. Congratulations everyone who, with such wonderfully inexplicable chutzpah and passion, chased their personal windmills to fruition and courageously and foolheartedly produced theatre in LA in 2018 despite the odds to succeed. For that alone, you are all winners!