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Theater critics in L.A. -- a dying breed

January 9, 2009 |  2:47 pm

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Steven Leigh Morris, the longtime theater editor and critic at the LA Weekly, has been let go and his position eliminated.

In his blog, he writes:

In the program of the off-Broadway production of my play Beachwood Drive last year, I wrote in my bio, somewhat facetiously, that among my proudest accomplishments was surviving six rounds of layoffs at the L.A. Weekly. The joke is now on me. That survival streak ended yesterday, when the newspaper's corporate uberseers in Phoenix eliminated the position of Theater Editor at the paper. Over six years, the "transitions" at this and other papers in the chain have become the alt-weekly's answer to the French Revolution.

During his 20-year tenure at the Weekly, Morris was a tireless champion of theater in Los Angeles — particularly on the smaller stages — and he oversaw the LA Weekly Theater Awards. In his blog post, Morris, who is also a playwright, said he will continue to contribute to the Weekly and help organize the awards.

Late last year, the Los Angeles Daily News dropped theater critic and writer Evan Henerson.

The L.A. ranks shrink, with Bob Verini at Variety, Paul Hodgins at the Orange County Register, Don Shirley at Los Angeles CityBeat and our own Charles McNulty among the full-time theater critics who remain. UPDATE: Phil Gallo, an associate editor at Variety, tells us that Verini is not a full-time theater critic. He adds that even though he's overseen theater coverage for more than a decade, it's never been his primary responsibility either.

-- Lisa Fung

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