The Bitter Lemons Review Brigade
Going forward, the BLI reviews will be posted in this section, for now, we once again wanted to introduce you to our talented pool of critics. If interested in getting a BLI review, either go here and purchase a "Bitter Lemons Reviews, or just send us a line at [email protected], put BLI in the header as well as the title of your show and we’ll get the party started for you.
THE BITTER LEMONS REVIEW BRIGADE (BLRB)
Listed below are the 8 fearless members of the inaugural BLRB (“Blurb”) and some of the illustrious outlets for which they have written. Please note: none of these outlets has endorsed the BLI.
When purchasing a BLI Review you will of course not be guaranteed a favorable review and you will not get to choose which of these individuals will be covering your show, we will make that decision via a random selection process, they have simply been listed here along with their credentials and bios so that you will know exactly the level of the talent pool from which we are pulling our reviewers.
Frances Baum Nicholson (Pasadena Star News, Pasadena Weekly, The Stage Struck Review): Frances Baum Nicholson has spent over thirty years as a theatrical critic for Pasadena-area newspapers. She began as a substitute for the Altadena Chronicle, before it was sold and became became the Pasadena Weekly. From there she moved to the Pasadena Star-News, joined since 1990 by the related papers of the San Gabriel Valley Newspaper Group, where she is now the sole theater critic, and its parent company of LA-area papers. She studied theater at The University of the Pacific, and holds an MFA in writing from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky.
She considers a highlight of her career that she once had an entire page of Letters to the Editor dedicated to hate mail written to her after she gave a negative review to the now-defunct California Music Theater’s production of “The Desert Song." She considers this to have been a backhanded compliment. In the spring of 2011 she was a featured panelist for the L.A. Stage Alliance discussion of “Arts Criticism: How Does it Serve Los Angeles”. 2011 also saw the advent of her theater arts blog, which houses the reviews from her newspaper work from that point forward (among other things): www.stagestruckreview.com
When not in the theater, Frances Baum Nicholson teaches philosophy, government and economics at Pasadena’s Blair High School, where she founded their Gay Straight Alliance and advises the student council. Under the name F.M. Nicholson she is the author of two published collections of poetry, and her work has appeared in many literary journals. She lives in Pasadena with her wife, fellow poet Cynthia Rausch Allar.
Ernest Kearney (Working Author, The TVolution, Bitter Lemons): Living in Londonderry and Belfast at the height of “The Troubles”, Kearney found himself approached by the IRA and investigated by the British authorities. On February 17, 1978 he was outside the La Mon restaurant in Northern Ireland when one of the worst bombings by the IRA took place. Twelve people died and thirty were injured. Kearney carries his scars still.
Returning to Los Angeles, Kearney turned his talents to the theatre once more. His first play, Among the Vipers was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre.
His following play, The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.”
Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist three times in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His play Peddle was selected by the Midwest Theatre Network as one of the best plays of 1997. His most recent work The Salt Prince was awarded honors from the Nathan Miller History Play Contest as well as the Fremont Center Theatre Play Contest.
His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer.
After a wild and misspent youth, which lasted well into middle age, Kearney has settled down and is focusing on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene.
Julio Martinez (Arts In LA, Variety, LA Stage Times): Julio Martinez is an arts journalist and critic, feature writer, radio host, guitarist, monologist and sometimes he goes dancing. Born in Spanish Harlem, he moved to Los Angeles at a young age, studied music and cultural history at LA City College, Univ. of Michigan and UC Berkeley. After serving in the US Army (teaching music theory at the Army Band School), Martinez launched into a music career during the 60s, performing with singer Al Jarreau (7 years), Irene Kral, Michael Greer, Kay Dennis and more. During this time, he also worked in live theater with the San Francisco Mime Troupe, The Committee Workshop and The Public Players Company. Since the mid-80s, Martinez has worked as a journalist and radio host, including an 18-year stint as a theater critic for Daily Variety and his current 26-year association with KPFK Radio. Martinez pens the weekly LA Stage INSIDER column for artsinla.com, as well as being a regular contributor to the Writer’s Guild publication, Written By, and writes TeleVsion features for Latin Heat Entertainment. More recently, Martinez has been active as a monologist and playwright.
Eric Marchese (OC Register, Backstage, Jewish Journal): As a continuing contract freelance writer since 1984 for The Orange County Register in Southern California, Eric Marchese has written some 2,200 stage reviews, advance articles, profiles, features and news stories for the paper’s Arts & Entertainment and Life sections. For most of the 1990s and 2000s, Marchese was a regular contributor to the Register’s Saturday features section, writing about interesting people, places to go and things to do in Orange County, California, while also working as a freelance writer for the paper’s Advertising Special Sections, covering a variety of subjects for the newspaper’s popular annual volume “The Best of Orange County.” For several years he contributed to the paper’s annual packages of advance stories for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and the California Auto Show. His work was also to be found in the Register’s “Home Beautiful” section and in the form of specialty articles on a variety of subjects ranging from the surfing industry to the multiple-story histories of the Edwards Cinemas national chain of California-based movie theaters and of the various members of the Edwards family.
From 1984 to 1989, Marchese was on the editorial staff of Newport Communications in Irvine, publisher of four trade publications dealing with the business and operations aspects of the trucking industry. While there, he wrote news, feature and product stories for flagship publication Heavy Duty Trucking and the bi-monthly magazine Heavy Truck Salesman. He later moved over to Darnell Research, where he was named managing editor, then editor-in-chief, of Powertechnics Magazine, a monthly trade publication for the power supply industry. He has written for the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, True Colors (an educational non-profit), the City of Buena Park’s Recreation Department (monthly newsletter), James Klein & Associates marketing (feature and historical copy), The Business Press (covering small businesses in Orange County) and as a writer and researcher for the Southern California-based Creative Network (later called Historic Publications).
More recently, Marchese was a writer-historian for Fullerton College’s centennial project and copy editor of Experience North Orange County magazine. From 2005 to 2012 he reviewed Southern California stage productions for BackStage, a national weekly trade paper covering film, theater and television arts.
Marchese presently reviews several shows per month for The Register and is the editor of the quarterly newsletter for the Fullerton-based non-profit educational corporation Friends of Jazz.
Jason Rohrer (Stage and Cinema, American Theatre Magazine, Bitter Lemons): Jason Rohrer’s education includes New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, The Nikitsky Gates Theater in Moscow, and the National Academy for Theater and Film Arts in Sofia, Bulgaria. He reviews film and performing arts for stageandcinema.com, contributes to American Theatre Magazine, and co-hosts the podcast Jason and Todd Talk through Lousy Films. He tweets as @RohrerVacui.
Joel Beers (OC Weekly, LA Weekly, American Theatre Magazine): Joel Beers has been the main theater critic at OC Weekly since that infernal rag’s first issue, in 1995. Previous to that, he was a freelance writer focusing on theater previews for the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. His theater writing has also appeared in American Theatre Magazine.
Along with OC Weekly, Beers has worked as a news, sports, feature and entertainment reviewer for publications in Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Los Angeles and Riverside, ranging from the Los Angeles Daily Journal and Southland Golf, to the Riverside Press-Enterprise and OC Metro.
He has also written more than a dozen plays that have been produced in Los Angeles and Orange Counties and once got a very nice letter from Amy Freed thanking him for his review of her play “Freedomland,” a review that Beers’ editor had tried to rip apart because it was too “purple.” That editor was overruled by the big editor, who obviously wasn’t an idiot. “Freedomland” was a finalist for the 1998 Pulitzer Prize and Freed said Beers’ review was the most insightful thing written about it. Beers holds grudges.
Recent awards include second place in arts criticism, circulation of 50,0000 and over, in the 2011 Alternative Weekly awards and second place in sports writing in the 2013 Southern California Journalism Awards/LA Press club, for a profile on former professional golfer Muffin Spencer-Devlin in the 2013 Southern California Journalism Awards/LA Press Club awards. Beers always remembers who finishes second.
His favorite playwrights are Samuel Beckett, Noah Haidle, George Bernard Shaw, Mark Ravenhill, and himself.
He loathes big, bombastic Broadway musicals.
He loves the Los Angeles Dodgers and thinks Vin Scully is the voice of God.
Jonathan Ross (Long Beach Post, Minor Progression, Bitter Lemons): Jonathan Ross is the leading theater critic for the Long Beach Post and writes for them from a lovely apartment in his hometown of Long Beach, California. He attended the Boston Conservatory where he received his Bachelor’s in Theater Arts and lived in Brooklyn, New York for nearly six years following that. While there he wrote for his now expired Theater/Music/Arts blog minorprogession.com and directed and stared in a small handful of theatrical curiosities. His interest for the theater is only matched by his love of well made cocktails, perpetual travel and late night dance parties.