DaytonMostMetro.com/onStageDayton’s newest contributor!
We are pleased to announce our newest contributor to DaytonMostMetro.com, Russell Florence, Jr.! The addition of Russell to the onStageDayton team means that DMM will not only be the place to go for previews and announcements about Dayton area theatre activities and events, but also your destination for theatre reviews as well!.
We are certainly honored that Russell has chosen to work with us at onStageDayton. He is well known around the Miami Valley theatre scene, having written for such publications as Dayton Daily News, Impact Weekly and, most recently, Dayton City Paper. In an effort to introduce Russell Florence, Jr. to our DMM readers, we asked him to respond to a few questions.
Russell, Welcome to DaytonMostMetro.com! We are thrilled that you will be joining our group of onStageDayton contributors. We’d like to take a couple of moments to “turn the tables” on you…and ask YOU a few questions!
OSD: You have been a pretty recognizable personality around the local theatre scene for quite some time now. What was the first review you wrote in a major Dayton area media outlet? What memories do you have of that experience?
RF: My first review was in 2001 courtesy of Impact Weekly, formerly the Dayton Voice. I reviewed the national tour of Titanic at the Victoria Theatre. The production definitely struck a chord. I’ve always loved Maury Yeston’s grand, operatic score.
OSD: In your years reviewing productions in the area, what changes have you witnessed in the Dayton area theatre scene?
RF: Primarily, Dayton’s theater community has been more open and receptive to risk, which I find extremely refreshing. At one time, there were only a handful of theaters willing to break from mainstream tastes, but multiple troupes, from the suburbs to downtown, are embracing challenging, thought-provoking, and edgy material. Many organizations are currently planning their 2011-2012 seasons as well. I’m excited to discover what’s in store!
OSD: Every community would love to know that their local theatre climate is a microcosm of the national one…in what ways is this true (or untrue) of the Dayton community?
RF: The ongoing support and encouragement of new voices in musical theater has been particularly wonderful. From professional theaters to collegiate and community theaters, Dayton audiences are being treated to important works and witnessing the rise of many up and coming composers with clear potential. It’s great that there are so many theater organizations in the Gem City with close connections to some of the best and brightest talents working in the industry.
OSD: What are two currently running shows in New York (Broadway or Off-Broadway) that make you feel optimistic about the future of American theatre?
RF: John Kander and Fred Ebb’s The Scottsboro Boys and Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning Next to Normal are two examples of compelling, conceptually dynamic musical theater that will hopefully inspire other artists to pursue the same.
OSD: You’ve had the opportunity to interview quite a few big names in theatre…who still makes you “starstruck”?
RF: I’m very fond of my 2002 interview with producer Cameron Mackintosh (who was in Dayton for the non-equity launch of Miss Saigon at the Victoria Theatre), but in terms of “starstruck,” I’ve crossed paths with and spoken briefly to Stephen Sondheim on two occasions and couldn’t move afterward!
OSD: Tell us, and our onStageDayton readers, a guilty pleasure that you just might be a little bit ashamed to admit…
RF: Waiting at the stage door to have my Playbill signed and chat with cast members after seeing a Broadway show remains tempting!
Make sure you visit DaytonMostMetro.com – onStageDayton regularly for the latest in theatre news! Russell will be contributing his first preview later this week, and reviews of local productions will begin soon! Additionally, David, Shane & Katherine will continue to highlight upcoming local performances and audition notices.
Russell Florence, Jr. is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and the Drama League. In addition to his role as arts and culture editor of Dayton City Paper and theater critic for Dayton City Paper and Impact Weekly, he served as a Dayton Daily News freelance writer and editorial page contributor. He has also written features for such theater publications as Spotlight Ohio and The Sondheim Review.
Shane Anderson & David Brush work with locally based Encore Theater Company.Katherine Nelson, a senior theatre major at Cedarville University, serves as the Literary Intern for ETC. The local theater company recently moved into the new arts collective space in the Oregon Arts District, along with Zoot Theatre Co & Rhythm In Shoes. Encore Theater Company has a mission to help develop new works of musical theater, most recently Next Thing You Know and The Proof, two new musicals in development.