2017 - 2018 Current Membership
* indicates membership in the American Theatre Critics Association
President Barry M. Willis *
Vice-President Linda Ayres-Frederick *
Secretary Gary Gonser *
Treasurer Jeffrey R. Smith
Chief Information Officer Harry Duke *
(are those members of the community who regularly review or write about theatre via print, radio, television or digital media.)
Kedar K. Adour, MD * is a retired physician. A playwright since high school, he had plays produced at New York’s Hamilton College (Prize winner), in Key West, Florida, and San Francisco. A former President of the SF Playwrights Center, Dr. Adour is the San Francisco Bay Area reviewer for TheatreWorld Internet Magazine, based in London, and posts on the For All Events website.
Denise Armstead, while having virtually no onstage theatre experience (other than a very minor role in a production of The Best Christmas Pagent Ever), has long enjoyed live theatre as an attendee. At the urging of a current SFBATCC member, Denise began writing reviews for local productions, and eventually made her way into SFBATCC, where she is delighted to find herself in the company of San Francisco bay area’s theatre elite. Living in St. Helena makes it a challenge to visit all the splendid theatre companies in the bay area; nevertheless, she has made it her personal goal to see as many productions as she possibly can.
Carol Benet was a member of The Critics Circle in the 70s and has now rejoined. Benet has a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from U.C. Berkeley and an M.A. in French and a B.A. in English from the University of Michigan. Her dissertation and published book is “The German Reception of Sam Shepard”. Benet has taught at UC Berkeley, UC Extension, Washington State University and Dominican University. She teaches literature seminars in San Francisco and Marin. She reviews theater and other arts for The Ark Newspaper in Tiburon where she has worked since 1975. In the past she wrote play reviews for ARTSSF.com and just started writing for ForAllevents.com.
Ken Bullock has written performing arts reviews regularly for such publications and websites as The Commuter Times, Berkeley Daily Planet, San Francisco Classical Voice and 21st Century Music since 2000, more occasionally in the years before that for arts magazines like Invisible City and Third Rail. A native of the Bay Area, he sold theater and film books at Limelight and has been associated with the Green Room Players and Theatre of Yugen.
Gaetana Caldwell-Smith was a member of the Circle from 2001 - 2006 and has returned as an active member. A native San Franciscan, Gaetana has acted in plays since grammar school and in the last few decades has turned to playwriting and directing. Her works have been see at the Exit Theatre, the A.C.T. Costume Shop, the Fringe of Marin, and the Shelton Theatre complex. Her theatre reviews can be found on the For All Events website.
David J. Chavez * is a South Bay-based theatre critic/reporter who has been covering local theatre for the past five years, the first three writing for examiner.com, and a journalist, theatre educator and director for the past 24 years. With a plethora of journalism experience, he gets out to as many shows as possible. David teaches Theatre Arts at Evergreen Valley High School in San Jose, has a B.A. in Theatre Arts from California State University, Fresno and a Master of Arts in Directing from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. He reviews can be found on the BayAreaPlays.com website.
Alexa Chipman is a North Bay-based theater critic for the Sonoma County Gazette and occasional contributor to the Petaluma Argus-Courier and Napa Valley Register. She has a background in dance, acting, young adult fiction, and historical interpretation with National and State Park museums.
Susan Cohn * is a senior correspondent for the San Mateo Daily Journal, writing weekly features about the performing arts, travel, and museums. She is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, Bay Area Travel Writers, the North American Travel Journalists Association, the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association and the State Bar of California.
Richard Connema * has reviewed around 1900 productions for talkinbroadway.com for the past six years. He worked in film for over 50 years, as a cameraman at Republic Studios, Warner Bros., and Paramount, working with such notables as John Ford and Orson Welles. Went into publicity, worked with Hitchcock, traveled to NYC, London, and elsewhere, giving him opportunities to see thousands of theatre productions and legendary performers such as Lunt & Fontaine, Hayes, Merman, Holiday, Streisand, Preston, and more. Richard is now retired.
Victor Cordell * is a performance devotee who's actively attended theatre in the many places he's lived, from generously sampling the bright lights of New York and London to grabbing anything that came along in the slightly less luminous Singapore and Hong Kong theater scenes. He is on the Board of Directors of Island City Opera and was previously on the boards of Cutting Ball Theatre, San Francisco Lyric Opera and the Monterey Opera Company. A PhD in marketing, Victor is a retired professor and banker who now spends a good deal of his time supporting theatre, which he believes is a form of performance entertainment that is unsurpassed in its intelligence, its humanity, and its evocativeness. He and reviews for theater and opera productions can be found on www.forallevents.com. He has established his personal site at www.cordellreports.com.
Harry Duke * is an actor, director, teacher, and theatre critic whose reviews can be seen in print in the North Bay Bohemian and online at the North Bay Stage and Screen website. He holds a B.A. in Theatre Arts from Sonoma State University where he graduated magna cum laude. He's been active in the North Bay theatre community for twenty years and has been seen on stage in roles as varied as Pozzo in Waiting for Godot to Mushnik in Little Shop of Horrors. He appears weekly on Sonoma County's "The Drive with Steve Jaxon" on KSRO News Talk at 1350 AM/103.5 FM to talk theatre and reviews theatre on the Second Row Center segment on North Bay Public Radio's KRCB 91.1 FM. He is also the Senior Arts and Entertainment Editor for The Worst Show on the Web, a popular podcast and entertainment site where his musings on the current state of film, television and pop culture can be found.
Susan Dunn finds a community, inspiration, revelation and joy in live theater that is unique to this art form. She has participated in Bay Area Theater in many varied roles since her move from New York in 1991: Board and Staff at Hillbarn Theater, Altarena Playhouse, Berkeley Playhouse, and Virago, and she has worked as Producer, Box Office or Stage Manager on several new productions in San Francisco and San Jose. She is proud to bring needed business skills to the arts. Recently retired from a technology career in the corporate world, where her specialty was reservations system design, she currently indulges her passion for live theater full time as Staff Historian at Altarena, and Development Director and Stage Manager for Island City Opera in Alameda. She delights in the ever-changing variety of theater companies and venues all over the Bay Area, and is associated with several local play writers and play readers associations. Susan has begun reviewing Theatre for the Theatrius website.
Robert Gardner is a native of North Dakota, is trained as an archaeologist, and has a life-long love of the arts. He taught for many years at at Saint Mary’s College of California, teaching courses including: Exploring Museums, and Music Around the Bay. In these courses, he enjoyed taking students to discover art and music. Grandson of a frontier newspaper editor, he comes from a family of writers. He loves to explore cultures, especially Native American, South American, and Bay Area. He plays guitar and sings in a Choir, and enjoys studying a wide range of musical styles. He reviews for the Theatrius website.
Gary Gonser * has produced theater productions in Marin for over 15 years. He has designed and built sets for groups in Marin and Sonoma counties and is especially proud of his work with Montgomery High School Drama Production students. He has an MA in Psychology and is a project manager for business and theatre projects. He co-founded the Novato Theater Foundation in 2004 as a non-profit to help raise money for local performing arts and formed Marin Onstage under the NTF in 2012 to support high-quality collaborative productions in local venues. His reviews can be found on the ImaginationLane.net website.
Marc Gonzalez was bitten by the theatre bug in his Junior year of high school, and has been in the throes of performing, choreographing, and seeing shows ever since. This past spring, Marc graduated from Foothill College with degrees in Theatre Arts and English Literature, and is currently at San Francisco State University in pursuit of a Single Subject Teaching Credential in English. Since moving back to the Bay Area in 2015, Marc has had the privilege to perform with Contra Costa Music Theatre, Pinole Community Players, Foothill Music Theatre, Palo Alto Players, Broadway By The Bay, South Bay Music Theatre, Silicon Valley Shakespeare, Pacifica Spindrift Players, Sunnyvale Community Players, and Coastal Repertory Theatre. Marc has been reviewing shows since he began his blog in 2011, which you can find on Tumblr called The Road to 1,000.
John Angell Grant * was a founding member of the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle in 1976, when the very first meetings were held to determine the nature of the Circle. He holds a literature degree from Columbia, with another from Stanford currently in progress. Grant has written about theater for American Theater magazine, BackStage West, Theater Bay Area magazine, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, the East Bay Express, the Oakland Tribune, the San Mateo Times, KRE radio, and other publications. John reviewed theater for the Palo Alto Daily News for 12 years before joining The Daily Post in 2012.
Barry David Horwitz taught English and Drama at Saint Mary's College, for many years. His has also taught at U.C., Berkeley; Univ. of Paris, Sorbonne; and as a Visiting Prof. of Contemporary Drama at Univ. of Montpellier, France. He served as the Founding Artistic Director of The Quixotic Players for many years and acted and dramaturged with Shotgun Players, Berkeley. He has published on Langston Hughes and U.S. '50s Drama. Now, on FUN-Employment, he is running and reviewing plays at Theatrius.com.
Flora Lynn Isaacson has a BA in Speech and Drama from Mills College, an MA in Theatre and Drama from Stanford and has worked toward her PhD at UC Berkeley. She was a college professor for 28 years before retiring in 1994. She has performed with the Fringe of Marin Festival and has been writing reviews for the last seven years. She posts on the For All Events website and is a contributor to San Francisco's Westside Observer.
Doug Konecky came to theater from the music side. His songs have been recorded and performed by many artists through the years, including Barbara Streisand, Patti LaBelle and Glen Campbell. He began reviewing theater for AOL in 2000 and was their principal San Francisco writer for five years. His independent San Francisco Theater Blog has been in operation since 2007.
Vince Mediaa has spent over 42 years working in Bay Area Media including theatre, broadcast television and film. During his stint in broadcasting he earned two Emmy awards and produced various TV magazine format projects, including assisting in the creation of the original Evening Magazine daily for KPIX in late 70's. After successful assignments with KPIX, KRON, KGO and Beyond Pix, Vince retired from professional broadcast projects. In 2008, he began working with his own clients. He created VmediaFilm and TV and established a client-list based in Berkeley, CA. He is presently retired but is still an A&R and reviews theatre and other live arts events for his own blog. His reviews can be found at www.vmediabackstage.com.
Steve Murray started producing theatre in 1998 with his critically acclaimed benefit series Viva Variety, branching out into one-man performance pieces, burlesque, parodies of Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte and Trog, and over 50 standup comedy shows. For the past six years, he’s been the Bay Area correspondent for Cabaret Scenes Magazine, covering vocal music. His reviews for music can be found on cabaretscenes.org as well as For All Events. He’s a foodie, competitive swimmer and tennis player, and loves film. His day job is in biotech, mainly oncology research. His reviews can be found on the For All Events website.
Jordan Nickels is a playwright and dramaturg, originally from the Midwest, with a Bachelor of Science in Theatrical Studies from Ball State University. He previously worked with Nashville Children’s Theatre, Goodspeed Opera House, Florida Studio Theatre, and The Walt Disney Company. He also served as a Blog Contributor and Managing Editor for two years at Camp Broadway in New York City. Jordan currently resides in San Francisco, CA and works as a Development Assistant at American Conservatory Theater. His reveiews van be found on OnStage Blog.
Christine Okon’s love of and appreciation for theater goes back to childhood in Chicago when she would read along with Living Shakespeare LPs (Othello, Macbeth etc.) that her mother would play. She eventually earned an MA in literature and linguistics at Northern Illinois University where she also participated in theater productions, her claim to fame being the clock that rings 13 times in The Bald Soprano. She has many rich memories of attending productions by the Steppenwolf, Goodman and other great Chicago theater companies, but her special love was, and still is, for small, ambitious, black box theater companies that take chances with new forms of expression. She moved to the Bay Area in 1990 and developed and taught courses in Multimedia Content at San Francisco State University and wrote about digital media for several publications. Continuously thrilled by the vibrant and diverse San Francisco theater scene, her reviews can currently be read at Theater & Such.
Cari Lynn Pace writes theatre and entertainment reviews for the six Marinscope Newspapers in Marin County. She has an extensive background supporting the arts, including Marin Symphony, Novato Theater Company, and 12 years on the Board of Directors for the Friends of the Marin Center for the Performing Arts. As a real estate broker, she writes and instructs real estate and consumer protection courses. Her latest book, Don't Shoot Me...I'm Just the Real Estate Agent! was published in 2010.
Eddie Reynolds * is a former Board member and Board Chair of TheatreWorks whose love of theatre began in his freshman year at the University of Tennessee. He attends an average of 100 shows a year throughout the entire Bay Area region and reviews them via his website Theatre Eddys. Besides being avid supporters of several local theatre companies, he is a season subscriber to the SF Opera, SF Ballet, and SF Giants. Eddie also sings with the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus. During the day, Eddie is an independent organization development consultant to for- and not-for-profit organizations throughout Silicon Valley and the Bay. His reviews can be found on his own site, Theatre Eddys, and on the Talkin' Broadway website.
Jeanie K. Smith * reviewed theatre for the Palo Alto Weekly, Talkin’ Broadway, San Jose Metro, and Mountain View Voice in the South Bay for more than 15 years. She has directed numerous productions as well, notably for Pear Theatre, Palo Alto Players and Dragon Theatre. Having relocated to the North Bay, she now writes reviews of productions in that region for Talkin’Broadway.com. Smith holds a Ph.D. in Drama, is a published scholar and dramaturg, an Associate member of Stage Directors & Choreographers, and shares more reviews and musings on theatre, arts and culture on Critic At Large 2.0.
Jeffrey R. Smith grew up in a renovated shop where willow baskets were previously made by his immigrant grandfathers. It was marginally heated by a wood stove; it offered no indoor plumbing. The experience left its mark: to this day, Jeff only reviews at theaters with heat and plumbing. In high school, he became interested in theatre. Occasionally he passed by the Regent Theatre on East Genesee Street in Syracuse, New York. He never attended a single performance at the Regent but, theatre was added to his list of things do when he ascended from family penury: as Gerald and Sara Murphy vowed, “Living well is the best revenge.” Jeff judges a show purely by its strengths. Those who read his reviews are urged to look beyond the dross and to appreciate the magical elements of the show. His reviews can be found on the For All Events website.
Patrick Thomas * is a writer with a wide range of experience, having written for several magazines, including WIRED and San Francisco, the travel newsletter Gemütlichkeit, as well as for some of the Bay Area's most prestigious brands, including Apple, Oracle, Charles Schwab, Genentech and Cisco. He sees as many as 80 shows every year, most in the Bay Area, but also in New York, London, Chicago. His reviews of Bay Area productions can be found on the Talkin' Broadway.com website.
Barry Willis * has worked extensively as a writer/editor for publications and websites including Stereophile, Guide to Home Theater, Ultimate AV, AudioVideo Interiors, Home Theater, Photographic Magazine, The Absolute Sound,The Perfect Vision, and DTV Magazine. Since 2007 he has been American correspondent for British audio-and-music journal Hi-Fi News. He is also an occasional contributor to Food Arts, garnering a nomination for a James Beard Award in Journalism. Formerly the art-and-theater critic with the Pacific Sun, he currently writes theater reviews for the Marin Independent Journal.
(are those who, through their participation in the community as directors, designers, performers, non-reviewing media members, etc., bring an additional level of critical perspective and experience or other theatrically-related background to the Circle.)
Joseph Cillo is a supporter, fan and regular attendee of theater and various performing arts performances presented in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of For All Events, a website devoted to travel, wine, dining and entertainment with calendar listings, reviews and news content. As of May 2015, For All Events features more than 1,200 reviews written and posted by 44 different critics/reviewers, of which many are members of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle. He also reviews films and performing arts as time allows.
Jeff Dunn first began to love the creation of musicals when Meredith Willson played a preview of his The Unsinkable Molly Brown on the piano at Jeff's childhood home. Earning a B.A. in Music at Grinnell College, Jeff went on to a career in geology and project management while composing incidental music for plays, art songs, a musical, film score, and chamber works, many of which were performed as part of concerts for the National Association of Composers, USA, where he is a lifetime member. Jeff has been a music critic in the San Francisco Bay area since 1993, writing for many journals including San Francisco Classical Voice. He is a member of the Music Critics Association of North America, and the Dramatists Guild. Along with his wife, Susan Dunn, he has managed the EastBay PlayReaders meetup for the last six years.
Mitchell Field just celebrated his 50th year as a professional hairstylist. From his days as an apprentice at the posh and world-renowned Mayfair salon of Vidal Sassoon, to Montreal, Los Angeles and eventually Marin County, Mitchell has cut, curled and colored his way through the last five decades. During his career he helped establish iconic hair designs; played an important role in popularizing punk-culture and rock ‘n’ roll hair styles of the 1980s; and even styled Michael Richards’ iconic ‘Kramer’ look for his role in the popular television series Seinfeld. In addition to his career as a hairstylist, Field also ventured into entertainment, establishing himself as a respected Bay Area actor and radio host. He’s appeared in independent films and commercials and in stage plays and musicals for theater companies including the Marin Mountain Play, Ross Valley Players and Berkeley Repertory Theatre.
Kris Neely began acting in theater in 1988 and directing in 1999. In 2013, he won an SFBATCC Best Director Award for Lend Me a Tenor at RVP. Kris trained at Studio ACT and Berkeley Rep. He's served on the board of directors of Novato Theater Co. and other non-profit committees and boards. He's worked with Aurora Theater's GAP program and has directed at Playwright's Center of San Francisco, Fringe of Marin, Novato Theater Co., Pittsburg Community Theater, SF Jewish Community Center Players, and Ross Valley Players among others. Kris is the published author of 200+ articles and 8 books (to date.) He is the Founding Artistic Director of Ensemble Repertory Company. And -- he somehow won an "Honorable Mention" award for his acting in a production at the Fringe of Marin.
Michael Oesch is a San Francisco-based lighting designer for dance, theatre, opera, musicals, and film. He has worked with Smuin Ballet since 2004 as the Lighting Director, where he has designed lighting for many of their world premieres. He has also designed lighting for The Magic Theatre, San Francisco Playhouse, Contra Costa Musical Theatre, Pacific Coast Repertory Theatre, West Wave Dance Festival, El Teatro Campesino, Solano College Theatre, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, New Conservatory Theatre Center, as well as many other Bay Area companies. He earned his BFA in Theatre from Illinois Wesleyan University and his MFA in Lighting Design from UC Davis. He is also a proud member of United Scenic Artists Local 829 – the Union of Theatrical Designers. He sees over 100 productions a year in the bay area, in all disciplines of live entertainment.
Michael Ross has been interested and involved in theater for most of his life through his work as an actor, producer, designer and director. He currently sits on the board of Sonoma Arts Live. He is an avid theatergoer, seeing an average of over 50 productions a year. He believes it is important to recognize, support and encourage theater throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.