(are those members of the community who regularly review or write about theatre via print, radio, television or digital media.)
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 * 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 the For All Events website.
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.
Karen Caronna is a Bay Area playwright and actor and is pleased to have recently made finalist in the 46th Bay Area Playwright's Foundation New Works Festival. She writes reviews for Theatrius and, well, it's all about the theater by the Bay. She has performed on stage and in films. A California Native, her home is in Oakland.
Jennifer Charron is a marketing and communications consultant, writer, and life-long storyteller. A native of Seattle, she holds a B.A. in Communications/Journalism from the University of Washington. A veteran marketing communications director, Jennifer is now a freelance writer and content specialist, creating product stories, authentic consumer conversations, and nonprofit narratives. Jennifer is an active participant in the Bay Area theater community and a theater critic whose reviews can be seen on Theatrius.com
Otto Coelho is an actor, director, acting coach, teacher, and writer. He grew up in the San Joaquin Valley, earned a BA in Drama from Cal State Stanislaus and an MFA from UC Irvine, then proceeded to work in stage productions, television, and film for the better part of thirty years. He says that he has to get onstage every couple of years or so, or else he “starts to lose his shpedoinkel” (note: has not, as of 2022, appeared on stage in three years). He is excited to be the Peninsula and South Bay critic for the TheatreStorm website.
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, the North American Travel Journalists Association, the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association and the State Bar of California.
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. His reviews for theater and opera productions can be found on the For All Events website.
Harry Duke * is an actor, director, radio broadcaster, teacher, and theatre critic whose reviews can be seen in print in the alternative weeklies North Bay Bohemian, Pacific Sun and the Healdsburg Tribune 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 co-hosted the North Bay's top-rated talk radio program "The Drive with Steve Jaxon & Harry Duke" on KSRO News Talk at 1350 AM/103.5 FM weekdays from 3 pm to 6 pm on which he also hosted a weekly theatre segment. 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.
Joanne Engelhardt is a former newspaper reporter who later moved to the corporate world where she worked on employee publications as well as marketing and corporate communications. Her late husband was a high school drama teacher who performed in community theaters around the Bay Area. About the time she retired from her full-time responsibilities, he corraled her into helping him with his directing projects. Eventually she got bit by the acting bug and started performing, first with him, and then by auditioning and getting cast on her own. She still loved writing and found the perfect outlet for her writing and performance experience - theater critic for the San Mateo County Times, then later at the Palo Alto Daily News. For the past eight years, she has reviewed theater for the Santa Cruz Sentinel and currently contributes to the Aisle Seat Review website. She last acted a year ago and thinks it will "probably" be her final onstage performance, although she still acts in an occasional commercial or as a standardized patient.
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 Mountain Play, Ross Valley Players and Berkeley Repertory Theatre.
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 his Theatre Hound 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 Tumblr blog The Road to 1,000 in 2011.
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 several years. She posts in collaboration with Elle Alexa Simon on the For All Events website.
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 over 42 years work experience 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, and assisted in the creation of the original 'Evening Magazine' 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 created Vmedia Film and TV and began working with his own client list based in Berkeley. He presently is retired but remains connected to the Arts community via his reviews of theatre and live Arts events. Find his posts and blog at VmediaBackStage.com
Susan Morgan is a contributing writer for Aisle Seat Review. A literature-and-theater enthusiast, Sue makes her home in Sonoma County’s Russian River region.
Patricia L. Morin * is a NY and CA licensed psychotherapist who was brought up by a theater-loving family. She is an award-winning playwright and has been on the board of International Centre of Women Playwrights (ICWP) for four years, serving as President for the last two. She continues her work with ICWP and Playwright Center of San Francisco (PCSF). Her love for theater, as well as analyzing the unique perspectives of theater reviewers, has led her to the SFBATCC. You can fine her reviews on the new Front Row Review website.
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 Broadway World - San Francisco and For All Events websites.
John Orr * began reviewing theater in Southern California where he saw Anthony Hopkins as Prospero, James Earl Jones as Othello (with Anthony Zerbe as an amazing Iago), Morgan Freeman as The Messenger, and Carol Channing as Dolly. John has enjoyed many great shows throughout the San Francisco Bay Area as a regular attendee of theatre in the East Bay, South Bay, and on the Peninsula. John is currently rewriting his novel, "Someone Dark Has Found Me," plus looking for a straight job. John's theater writing appears on his Regarding Arts website and sometimes in Bay Area News Group publications.
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 by his seeing Boys in the Band in his freshman year at the University of Tennessee. He attends and reviews 150-180 shows a year throughout the entire Bay Area region, at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and other venues. Besides being an avid supporter of a number of local theatre companies, he is a season subscriber to the SF Opera and regular attendee at SF Ballet and SF Symphony. Eddie also sings with the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus for whom he commissioned the 40th Anniversary Concert, Unbreakable, by Andrew Lippa, in memory of his late husband, Ed Jones. Eddie retired in 2016 as an independent, organization development consultant in order to devote full-time to reviewing theatre, having worked with a hundred-plus executive teams in both the for- and not-for-profit sectors since 1989. His reviews can be found on his Theatre Eddys website as well as the Talkin' Broadway website.
Nicole Singley * is a Sonoma County based writer who studied English literature and creative writing at UC Berkeley. In addition to the SFBATCC, Nicole is an active member of the American Theatre Critics Association and Sonoma County’s Marquee Theater Journalists Association. Her reviews can be found on the Aisle Seat Review website.
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 website.
Woody Weingarten was tickled, while in a suburban New York high school in the ‘50s, to have a poem in a national anthology. His first paid gig, though, was a book review in the Chicago Sun-Times in 1965. Between those two, he became addicted to Broadway shows. He later penned a monthly piece for Audio magazine and almost two decades ago began writing theater and arts reviews, features and a column for the six Marinscope weeklies. In 2012 he added the For All Events and Patch websites, in 2020 localnewsmatters, and in 2023 Aisle Seat Review. He’s co-written a musical with his composer-performer wife, authored three books, “Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner’s breast cancer,” “Grampy and His Fairyzona Playmates,” and “The Roving I, and is working on a couple more. He expects to croak, at age 102, with his rump on an ergonomic chair and his fingers on an old-fashioned keyboard.
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 and Aisle Seat Review.
(are those who, through their participation in the community as directors, designers, educators, 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.
Karin Cordell * was born and raised in Manhattan. With a love of theater, she continues to increase her attendance and appreciation of the art. Besides having seen over 1000 productions across the U.S. and overseas; edited over 160 theater reviews; and co-authored 12 travel and event reviews, she spent two years on the board of Island City Opera and as a member/performer in East Bay Playreaders. With a Ph.D in education/communication her professional work included coordination of Arts Curricula for the state of Delaware and the District of Columbia Public Schools, as well as authorship of two books and several peer reviewed papers.
Sarah Duarte has been a lover of music and theater her entire life. She’s been teaching vocal music and dance in the San Jose Public School system for 17 years and counting. An Opera major in college, Sarah took a break from performing to raise a family but has thoroughly enjoyed returning to the stage in the South Bay, most recently as Sally Bowles in the South Valley Civic Theatre production of Cabaret. Sarah co-hosts (with AJ JAffari) the Broadway with AJ and Sarah podcast, where they review local shows, interview local actors and production crew, and discuss other aspects of the Bay Area theatre scene. Follow them on social media @BroadwaywithAJ
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.
AJ Jaffari has been participating in musical theater since the age of seven and continuing through high school with roles in such shows as Legally Blonde and Cats. He is currently pursuing an Associates Degree at West Valley College in Film, TV and Media Studies while continuing his theatrical pursuits. AJ was most recently seen on local stages in a featured role in the City Lights Theater Company production of Kinky Boots. AJ is a singer/songwriter with 2 full length albums available on Apple Music, iTunes, Spotify and more. He also hosts the Housewives Happy Hour podcast where he interviews reality TV personalities. AJ co-hosts (with Sarah Duarte) the weekly podcast Broadway with AJ and Sarah. It's a mixture of reviews of local shows, interviews with actors and production crew, and discussions of other aspects of the Bay Area theatre scene. You can follow AJ on social media @BroadwaywithAJ
Philippa Kelly is Resident Dramaturg for the California Shakespeare Theater (where she has dramaturged 40 productions since 2009) and Resident Dramaturg for the newly-established Remote Theater. She is co-recipient of a Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas Bly Award for Innovation in Dramaturgy (2015), and, with Cal Shakes as sponsor, she received a 2020 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, awarded to support her dramaturgy work with Cal Shakes during Covid19. Philippa has published 11 books, 45 peer-reviewed articles and 55 playbill articles. Her latest publication is Diversity, Inclusion, and Representation in Contemporary Dramaturgy: Case Studies from the Field (Routledge, April 2020, Associate Editor Amrita Ramanan). Over several years, Philippa has led teams funded by the Walter and Elise Haas Foundation and the California Arts Council to partner with schools across the Bay on curriculum development to enable theater studies to thrive in under-funded schools.
George Maguire is a 55+ year member of Actors' Equity Assn. and SAG/AFTRA. An active film actor, his credits include Fight Club, Pursuit of Happyness, 13 Reasons Why, True Crime, True Believer, etc. He has performed on Broadway and in most of the regional theaters and Shakespeare Festivals in the states. He was co-founder of the Solano College Theater Actors Training Program and recipient of a Samuel French One-Act playwriting award for THE ENCHANTED MESA.
Awele Makeba is an internationally renowned storyteller, an acclaimed recording artist, a 2019 NBC Universal All Star Teacher Award recipient, the producer of the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Oratorical Festival (Oakland Unified School district) featured in the HBO EMMY-winning documentary We Are The Dream: the Kids of the Oakland MLK Oratorical (2020) and storyteller-in-residence for Dr. Clay Carson at Stanford U: The World Project. She is contributor to the book Diversity, Inclusion, and Representation in Contemporary Dramaturgy, edited by Philippa Kelly, Routledge 2020.
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.
Jeffrey Ramos is originally from the Philippines and moved to the United States in 2007. A biology major in college intending to go to Medical School, he now works as a Validation Engineer for a software company in San Mateo. He became a theater fan when he saw his first musical starring Lea Salonga in Miss Saigon (2001). The magic of live theatre quickly captivated him and he has been a staunch supporter of the community ever since. He typically sees over 40 productions a year. Jeff has worked as an actor, producer, stage manager, production manager, crew member, and usher in various theatrical productions in the Philippines, LA, and San Francisco Bay Area. In his spare time, you can see Jeff teaching fitness at F45 Studio in San Bruno, running multiple Spartan Races all over the US, or traveling to different cities around the world to do touristy things. Follow his adventures on Instagram at @jepriy
Jeanie K. Smith * reviewed theatre for the Palo Alto Weekly, San Jose Metro, Talkin’Broadway 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. Smith holds a Ph.D. in Drama, is a published scholar and dramaturg, and an Associate member of Stage Directors & Choreographers. She shares her reviews and musings on theatre, arts and culture on her Critic At Large 2.0 website.