“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” — Oscar Wilde
I live for art, and I suspect that you, dear readers, do too.
So, let’s share our mutual admiration for live and local theater. I’m the new managing editor of Limelight, thrilled to be here.
We’re in this together, and feedback is always welcome.
Maybe you already know that I am a show-tune-loving drama queen with a nose for news, but if you don’t, you soon will.
The arts were my salvation as a youngster. You too? From the minute I was on the high school speech team, I found my tribe. Then the school plays, fall and spring! Oh, how I loved working behind the scenes or on stage or singing in chorus. Such a dramatic teenager — my poor sainted mother! (Shake head sheepishly).
At age 13, I decided journalism would be my chosen path – it was 1968, and the world was exploding. So, when I started college, although I was a total drama geek, I knew that theater would remain only a passion, not a vocation. That’s why I minored in it — just loved it so much.
And fortunately, at Illinois State, I parlayed my zeal for entertainment into writing about it in the school paper. Some of my performing classmates went on to be founders the revered Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, so I am fond of saying I gave Laurie Metcalf, John Malkovich, Terry Kinney, Moira Harris and Jeff Perry their first rave reviews. ISU was my training ground, and because that level of quality spoiled me, I developed high standards.
I would be active in helping produce children’s theater, school theater, summer theater and community theater off and on for years. I had wonderful mentors during my teen years, and those lessons ring true today. I know about collaborating, clicking, and creating something special. To watch people thrive through creative expression is just exhilarating.
I also have been through times when things don’t work, when pettiness ruins things, when a cog in the wheel busts, and when no matter how hard you try, the show just doesn’t soar. It’s frustrating when people fritter away so much talent and opportunity, when they act as if they are more important than the work.
But I’ve seen train wrecks turn into flights to the moon. I’ve seen stars born, someone seize their moment, and the rewards of inspiration. How exciting to see people bloom, create a ‘family,’ and produce something everyone can be proud of, something that says something. Isn’t this what it’s all about — not ourselves — but in achieving a good thing together?
After 50, I settled into a niche writing reviews and people/entertainment features, and grateful that I can use my journalism skills in writing about something that means so much. This is really a privilege, and I understand the responsibility. We must uphold our end.
Someone once said that books are about how people think, theater is about how people feel, and movies are about how people act. Good theater must move us — make us think and feel. Don’t you get chills while watching profound and poignant theater? That power! How glorious is that feeling?
I care deeply about theater illuminating our human condition and connecting us in such a visceral way — that’s why I enjoy pointing out what productions are worth a person’s time and money. When I experience a special moment, I want everyone to share that feeling!
My biggest pet peeve is a lazy production or performance. Do the work. Your audience deserves your very best. Don’t fool me with smoke and mirrors. (And miscasting, that’s another trigger, but we’ll discuss that later.)
I’m a tough critic, and proud of it. I will be honest here. You may not agree, but hey, we all have opinions. We see something through our own eyes. At Limelight, we offer a viewpoint and strive to be informed and insightful. But I pledge that there will not be any fluff or pandering during my watch.
You want us to keep it real? Then support our mission. Spread the word. Communicate. React.
We want to provide a needed and necessary voice.
We want to share what we consider special about people in this town who lay their souls bare for us, for the sake of art.
That passion can’t be manufactured, so why be artificial here?
We want authenticity. In exchange, we pledge veracity.
I am so very grateful that people are inspired to create magic in this town, that I get to witness it, and can marvel at the work. We are so lucky that we are richer for these experiences.
So, are you with me, ready to take this unpredictable rollercoaster ride and hop on the merry-go-round to the beat of a different drummer? All aboard!
Let’s all go see a play!