Welcome to the Theater

By Bill Hirschman

We believe in the future of theater, especially South Florida theater.

This website is an expression of that faith.

Certainly, the demise of Florida Stage infected all of us who love theater with a quiet dread. It whispered perhaps this time the fabulous invalid really has started its final downward spiral.

But you and I know better. Live theater is an expression of our souls that has endured 45,000 years. It has prevailed because it fills an innate need in humanity – the need to come together to tell stories, to hear stories, the need to learn and grow, the need to share, the need to know that what we feel, think and experience is not an aberration. As Melissa Manchester once said, to know “that we’re not going crazy all alone.”

So, the new Florida Theater On Stage rises today like the proverbial phoenix as an article of faith, our articulation of support and our tangible investment in the art of theater.

We need to underscore that this site is simply a cyber platform for reputable, vetted arts journalism: honest and independent and ethical. While we want advertisements, that will play no part in a critic’s review or even the choice of what we write about. Our sole responsibility is to our readers and our sole stock in trade is unassailable integrity.

Our key goal is to review every professional production in the three counties. But there will be additional elements aimed at making the site indispensable to theater audiences and professionals.

* A calendar stretching out as far as possible listing professional, community and educational productions – updated as soon as there is an addition, deletion or extension. Each listing will include phone numbers and direct links to pages where people can buy tickets.

* A comprehensive posting of news items including auditions and casting decisions plus a Tuesday spotlight on what’s opening and closing.

* Features and advances on upcoming shows, even Q & A interviews with local theater figures.

* Local podcasts, promotional videos from theaters, photo galleries of productions.

* Bill’s blog, Stage Bill, will examine local theater and arts issues. We also will welcome guest columns from  professionals and the public. We especially hope readers will comment on specific posts, starting an interactive town hall meeting.

 * Reviews of New York shows that will likely be presented here.

 * An encyclopedic list of websites to help patrons, students and professionals research topics and to stay current with developments around the country

 * Reviews of theater-related books, CDs and DVDs.

 * A searchable archive, including everything that was published in South Florida Theater Review.

 All of this will take time (and cash flow) to develop and evolve, so we also ask your patience. We will be constantly growing, adding new features, discovering what works and what doesn’t. And we’ll make mistakes, some tiny, some large. So, we need your feedback and suggestions, criticism and corrections.

 Over the past three months, we have been approached by so many people offering much needed advice, encouragement and, where feasible, far more than just good wishes. Profound thanks to, in no order: Mary Damiano, Betsy and David Weisman, Joe Adler of GableStage, Ann Kelly of Madcat Theatre, Charlie Cinnamon, Savannah Whaley of Pierson Grant, Christopher Demos-Brown and Michael McKeever of Zoetic Stage, Richard Jay Simon of Mosaic Theatre, Bill Hayes and Sue Ellen Beryl at Palm Beach Dramaworks; Lorraine and Tim Treanor of DC Theatre Scene, Jay Harris, Michael Peyton of WLRN’s Cultural Connection, Benjamin Aycock V, Dan Christensen and Alan Cherry of Broward Bulldog, Toni Antonetti,   Bob Rountree and Bonnie Gross of Florida Rambler, Buddy Nevins of Broward Beat, Tom Davidson, the folks at 2Amt, Andie Arthur of southfloridatheatre.com, and Larry Johnson for bequeathing the archives of South Florida Theater Review. Special thanks to Vanessa Cordo and to Pete T. Boyd and the crew at PaperStreet,com. Our apologies to anyone inadvertently omitted.

 Their aid has been a reminder that we are in a partnership with you, the people who love theater.  Many of you have asked how you could help. Besides advertising or putting an ad in your Playbill, there are three simple steps that won’t cost you a dime.

Alert your friends and colleagues through Facebook, Twitter and mass email lists that we exist, spelling out our URL. And join us on Facebook, Twitter and/or an RSS feed for alerts when we post new material.

Please talk to us online: Critique the site, provide us story ideas and up-to-the-minute tips on news, and  send us news releases.

 But first and foremost, take advantage of what we offer you. Make us part of your daily online routine; we’ll make it worth your effort.

Who We Are

Editor, chief critic and reporter

Bill Hirschman has been a professional journalist since interning during high school in 1966 in Westchester County, New York. He began reviewing theater for the South Florida Sun Sentinel in 1998 and has written about the arts and reviewed books for several decades. His arts coverage has appeared in Variety, American Theatre magazine, Playbill.com, a&e magazine and The Miami Herald. His work as the founding critic for the South Florida Theater Review won him first place for arts criticism in the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sunshine State Awards. He serves on the executive committee of the American Theatre Critics’ Association, treasurer of its Foundation and the chairman of its new plays completion, which presents the Steinberg/ATCA Award.

 A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism with a theater  minor, he has been involved in theater as an actor, director, producer and playwright most of his life.

 He is an award-winning investigative reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in Florida, New York, Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas, covering local government, education, social services and crime. He is the past president of the South Florida and Kansas chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists and winner of the national First Amendment Award.

 He lives in Plantation with two dogs and his wife Oline H. Cogdill who he says “makes all things possible.”

He can be reached at bill@floridatheateronstage.com or (954) 478-1123.


Mary Damiano has been covering arts and entertainment South Florida as an feature writer and theater critic for more than 10 years.  She is currently arts editor of South Florida Gay News and an administrator and voting member for the Carbonell Awards.  She is the co-founder of MiamiARTzine.com, for which she worked as editor for four years.  Mary has been published in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, New Times, Miami SunPost, and more than a dozen other local and national publications. An award-winning writer, her essay Creature of the Night took first place in the National Writers Association South Florida Chapter’s writing contest in 2000, and her play, Word Count, won first place in the 2007 South Florida Theatre Festival One-Act Play contest. In 2009, her short story, The Day Janis Joplin Died, was a finalist in the 11th annual Writer’s Network of South Florida writing competition.  Mary’s play Jane Fonda’s Breast was featured in the 2004 Lavender Footlights Festival.  She has published nearly 2,000 articles since 2000, and is listed in the 2005 edition of Who’s Who in America.  Mary is also a member of the American Theatre Critic’s Association and the Theatre League of South Florida.  Mary believes her greatest accomplishment is figuring out how to make a living by being entertained.  She can be reached at starrwriter2000@aol.com

Michelle F. Solomon has been immersed in theater since she first played the role of  Millie in Picnic at the age of 12. A graduate of Emerson College, Boston, Mass., with a master’s degree from the State University of New York, Michelle has been a theater critic at major and mid-sized newspapers, including executive arts editor of the Albany (N.Y.) Times Union and assistant features editor/entertainment at The Detroit Free Press. She was an on-air entertainment reporter for NBC affiliate, WDIV-TV, and an executive producer at ABC affiliate, Miami’s WPLG-TV, Local 10. In addition to theater reviews for Florida Theater On Stage, Michelle is a syndicated movie reviewer for Internet Broadcasting/Local10.com, involved locally in improv comedy, and recently got up the nerve to begin performing stand-up comedy at venues in South Florida. She can be reached at msolomon23@att.net. 

Brad Hathaway: Writing about theater is a second career for Brad. After 30 years working for the Legislative Branch of the Federal Government first as a staff member in the House of Representatives and then as an executive at the GAO, the non-partisan investigative arm of the Congress, he retired to delve into his life-long passion — theater, especially musical theater. While writing for multiple newspapers in the Washington, D.C., area, he came early to the digital world of the Internet. He covered Washington theater for Theatre.Com and Broadway for Musical Stages Online. In 2001 he established Potomac Stages, the first comprehensive website for the Washington theater community. Now relocated to the west coast, he is undertaking writing projects on a wider range of topics. He writes the weekly syndicated column Theatre Shelf: CDs, DVDs and Books for the Theatre Lover, while still contributing to websites and magazines such as American Theatre, The Sondheim Review, Live Design and Stage Directions. He can be reached at Brad@BradHathaway.com

Copy Editor

Oline H. Cogdill is a veteran features editor, copy editor, teen mentor and internationally-recognized mystery fiction reviewer and columnist. She currently reviews for South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Mystery Scene Magazine, Publishers Weekly, among others outlets. Her work is distributed through the McClatchy-Tribune News Service and has appears in more than 300 newspapers and websites around the world. She received the Ellen Nehr Award for Excellence in Reviewing from the American Crime Writers League and the Pettyjohn Award from the Sun-Sentinel. She currently serves as managing editor of Nova Southeastern University’s Horizons magazine.


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