Better Lemons Announces 2019 ‘Critics of the Year’ Awards

Southern California - Better Lemons has announced the 2019 “Better Lemons Critics of the Year” Awards featuring 10 categories, with the winners selected by audience vote.

Ed Rampell from Hollywood Progressive received the Fomenter of Revolution Critic of the Year Award, Jill Weinlein from Onstage Blog was given the Name Dropper Critic of the Year title, and Lorenzo Marchessi from The Geek Authority was recognized as the Say What? Critic of the Year 2019.

The Silver Tongue Critic of the Year Award went to Vanessa Cate from Stage Raw, Ernest Kearney from The TVolution was honored with the Director Critic of the Year Award, and the Up Late Critic of the Year Award went to Eric Gordon from People’s World.

Shari Barrett from Broadway World earned the Theatre Hound Critic of the Year Award, while the I Love LA Critic of the Year Award was given to Paul Myrvold from Paul Myrvold’s Theatre Notes, and the Enlightenment Critic of the Year Award was accepted by Deborah Klugman from Stage Raw.

When the voting dust had settled, Steven Stanley from Stage Scene LA was honored as the overall Southern California’s 2019 CRITIC OF THE YEAR.

According to Better Lemons publisher Enci Box, “So much energy is put on attracting theater critics, reviewers and writers; we decided it was time to put the spotlight on them and to thank them for the work they do in celebrating Southern California’s creative community. This is the first time we have conducted a poll to select the best of the best, and we were overwhelmed by the response.”

Critics who register with Better Lemons, called “Registered Critics," post their own review excerpts to the site's production pages for shows running throughout Southern California. They also give each production a “Sweet,” “Sweet and Sour” or “Sour” LemonMeter rating.

In 2019, Better Lemons had 46 registered critics and 1200 registered productions. Out of these productions, 336 were recognized as “Sweet” by Southern California’s theater critics.

Better Lemons is Southern California’s only theater review site with a LemonMeter rating, and it is also Southern California’s #1 event calendar. Producers and publicists can register their productions for free on the site. Once a production has received a minimum of three reviews from audience members or critics, the listing will receive a LemonMeter rating and become eligible for the year-end “Best of Show Awards.”


THE BETTER LEMONS "DIRECTOR" CRITIC AWARD FOR 2019 GOES TO...

ERNEST KEARNEY - The TVolution

The "Director" Award goes to the critic who is most likely to write reviews that inform the artists.

Congratulations to Ernest from all of us!

Ernest Kearney is an award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note. He 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. A passionate theatre and history buff, Mr. Kearney's reviews can be found on WorkingAuthor.com and TheTVolution.com.

To view all of Ernest's review excerpts, visit his Better Lemons page HERE.

To view all the Registered Critics on Better Lemons who post their own review excerpts and give each show a LemonMeter rating, go to Better-Lemons.com/Registered-Critics.

All Registered Critics write theater and art reviews for their own publications and then rate registered shows on our website and add their LemonMeter rating. Please contact them through their own website to congratulate them and to get them to review your production.

On Monday we will announce the winner of the "Up Late" Award - the award that goes to the most prolific critic in 2019.

THE BETTER LEMONS "FOMENTER OF REVOLUTION" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Ed Rampell from Hollywood Progressive.

THE BETTER LEMONS "NAME DROPPER" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Jill Weinlein from Onstage Blog.

THE BETTER LEMONS "SAY WHAT" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Lorenzo Marchessi from The Geek Authority.

THE BETTER LEMONS "SILVER TONGUE" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Vanessa Cate from Stage Raw.


"MEET THE CRITICS II" Panel Podcast

On Saturday, October 27, Better Lemons and Theatre West hosted “Meet the Critics II” featuring several of LA's premier critics for a panel discussion of theatre criticism.

The following critics attended:
Vanessa Cate from Stage Raw
Vanessa Cate is the Assigning Editor for Stage Raw and the Editor-in-Chief for @thisstage.la. Vanessa is a performance artist, writer, and jack of all trades, and can be found on stage, in strange audiences, and in interesting situations.
Ellen Dostal from Musicals in LA
Ellen Dostal writes for BroadwayWorld and Musicals in LA. She is also a Senior Editor and longtime writer for BroadwayWorld Los Angeles. She has covered the performing arts community, jazz, and classical music for KJazz 88.1 FM and K-Mozart 1260 AM. She holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Northern Iowa. She is also the LA Show writer for TheThreeTomatoes.com (The Insider's Guide for women who aren't kids). Ellen joined the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle in 2017.
Ernest Kearney from The TVolution.com
Ernest Kearney is an award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note and 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. A passionate theatre and history buff, Mr. Kearney's reviews can be found on WorkingAuthor.com and TheTVolution.com.
David MacDowell Blue from Night Tinted Glasses
David MacDowell Blue has been reviewing Los Angeles theatre via his blog “Night Tinted Glasses” since 2012. He has a degree in Theatre Arts and graduated from New York's National Shakespeare Conservatory. At different times, he has acted, directed, written plays and designed things from sets to lights to costumes. Born in San Francisco, he ended up raised in Florida (where he lived through twelve–yes TWELVE–hurricanes) then eventually landed in Los Angeles.
Tracey Paleo from Gia on the Move
Tracey Paleo is founder of Gia On The Move. Gia On The Move was established in 2009 as an arts & culture dialog site attracting influencer readers in a variety of industries. In addition to Gia On The Move, Tracey Paleo is the former Associate Editor of FootLights and has been a contributor to Discover Hollywood, FootLights, Tolucan Times, Extra Virgin: Under the Tuscan Gun, among other publications. In 2015, Tracey also spearheaded the groundbreaking 1st Stage Raw Los Angeles Theatre Awards live broadcast and Twitter Campaign, which trended regionally to an audience of over one million views alongside Drake, Madonna and The Avengers movie. Tracey was also a panelist on the 1st Stage Raw ‘Visualizing The Invisible' Performing Arts Coverage Symposia.
Rob Stevens from Haines His Way
Rob Stevens began reviewing in 1973 for the monthly community theatre magazine Showcase, covering the professional theatres in Los Angeles. He served as editor/co-publisher of It's Showtime in 1996-98. He has also been a reviewer/interviewer for Dimension, Data-Boy Magazine, The Civic Star, Frontiers, Frontiers After Dark, Drama-Logue, Backstage West, L.A. Reader, Santa Barbara Independent and a few others. In 1988 he began writing the column West Coast Stages in the national publication Backstage. In recent years he has written for the websites ShowMag.com, TheatreMania.com, and StageHappenings.com. He is the founder of The Robby Awards which began as a listing in Showcase magazine in 1975 and has since grown into an annual awards show. The 30th Robby Awards were presented in February, 2016. He is a member of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle.
You can also view this panel on Vimeo, created and edited by Kenny Johnston from MediaDelux:


Better-Lemons Meet The Critics II from MediaDelux on Vimeo.


MEET THE CRITICS II - SATURDAY, OCTOBER 27TH

LOS ANGELES, October 23, 2018 - LA's most talented and prolific Theatre Critics take to the stage to answer the questions that keep us up at night, "Who are these critics, what do they do, and how do we find them?"

Writers, Directors, Producers, Publicists, Performers, and anyone else who has struggled to get their work reviewed will benefit from this free workshop that bridges the gap between performer and critic.

This event is free and open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to RSVP via [email protected] and to bring their questions, comments, suggestions, and elevator pitches.

Panelists will address strategies for connecting with reviewers, pitching productions, maximizing the benefits of a review, and building relationships with reviewers and critics.

The "Meet the Critics II" panel includes:

Vanessa Cate
Vanessa Cate is the Assigning Editor for Stage Raw and the Editor-in-Chief for @thisstage.la. Vanessa is a performance artist, writer, and jack of all trades, and can be found on stage, in strange audiences, and in interesting situations.

Ellen Dostal
Ellen Dostal writes for BroadwayWorld and Musicals in LA. She is also a Senior Editor and longtime writer for BroadwayWorld Los Angeles. She has covered the performing arts community, jazz, and classical music for KJazz 88.1 FM and K-Mozart 1260 AM. She holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Northern Iowa. She is also the LA Show writer for TheThreeTomatoes.com (The Insider's Guide for women who aren't kids). Ellen joined the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle in 2017.

Ernest Kearney
Ernest Kearney is an award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note and 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. A passionate theatre and history buff, Mr. Kearney's reviews can be found on WorkingAuthor.com and TheTVolution.com.

David MacDowell Blue
David MacDowell Blue has been reviewing Los Angeles theatre via his blog "Night Tinted Glasses" since 2012. He has a degree in Theatre Arts and graduated from New York's National Shakespeare Conservatory. At different times, he has acted, directed, written plays and designed things from sets to lights to costumes. Born in San Francisco, he ended up raised in Florida (where he lived through twelve--yes TWELVE--hurricanes) then eventually landed in Los Angeles.

Tracey Paleo
Tracey Paleo is founder of Gia On The Move. Gia On The Move was established in 2009 as an arts & culture dialog site attracting influencer readers in a variety of industries. In addition to Gia On The Move, Tracey Paleo is the former Associate Editor of FootLights and has been a contributor to Discover Hollywood, FootLights, Tolucan Times, Extra Virgin: Under the Tuscan Gun, among other publications. In 2015, Tracey also spearheaded the groundbreaking 1st Stage Raw Los Angeles Theatre Awards live broadcast and Twitter Campaign, which trended regionally to an audience of over one million views alongside Drake, Madonna and The Avengers movie. Tracey was also a panelist on the 1st Stage Raw 'Visualizing The Invisible' Performing Arts Coverage Symposia.
'Gia On The Move' is Tracey's brand as well as her site and she is an influencer in other places under that moniker.
'Tracey Paleo' (alone) is mostly known as the actress from Scorsese's, 'The Departed'  among other things.

Rob Stevens
Rob Stevens began reviewing in 1973 for the monthly community theatre magazine Showcase, covering the professional theatres in Los Angeles. He served as editor/co-publisher of It's Showtime in 1996-98. He has also been a reviewer/interviewer for Dimension, Data-Boy Magazine, The Civic Star, Frontiers, Frontiers After Dark, Drama-Logue, Backstage West, L.A. Reader, Santa Barbara Independent and a few others. In 1988 he began writing the column West Coast Stages in the national publication Backstage. In recent years he has written for the websites ShowMag.com, TheatreMania.com, and StageHappenings.com. He is the founder of The Robby Awards which began as a listing in Showcase magazine in 1975 and has since grown into an annual awards show. The 30th Robby Awards were presented in February, 2016. He is a member of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle.

The "Meet the Critics II" panel will take place from 10am to 12 noon @ Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, LA, CA 90068
Arrive early, bring your coffee mug, and get ready to get connected!
Parking is available in the lot across the street and also on the street.

Audience reviews:

Meet the Critics was the event that I needed to help me learn how to network with prominent members of the Fringe community and the LA Theatre scene. I learned the best ways to contact critics, the do's and don'ts of a press release, and ways to draw an audience. I also met some critics who came to my show and gave me reviews that boosted my confidence as a performer and writer. It it wasn't for Better Lemons, I would have been totally lost trying to navigate the Fringe Fest. ~ John Brahan - actor, playwright “Ain't That America

Meet the Critics panel is akin to learning the trick behind the magician's illusions. Only in this case it's dream making instead of fantasy breaking. Any serious thespian would be a fool to miss it. ~ Cooper Bates - writer, performer “Black When I Was A Boy

Yes! Another Press Panel! At the Better Lemons' Fringe Critics panel, I was able to connect and form solid professional relationships with the people at the heart of support system for the LA theater community - it's Press. These events are a must for anyone producing and performing in Los Angeles. ~ Jonathan Tipton Meyers - actor, writer and filmmaker “We Are Traffic - A Rideshare Adventure

Critics' Review:

The supreme achievement of humanity finds expression in the word “community.”  By bringing together artists, producers, critics and all those who have a passion for L.A. theatre, Better Lemons serves to strengthen us individually and collectively. ~ Ernest Kearney, Playwright and Critic

Better Lemons is Home of the LemonMeter and LA's #1 Arts & Entertainment Calendar. Founded in 20016 by Enci Box, Better Lemons aggregates reviews from critics and audience members, and features news and opinion on LA's theatre.

Theatre West is an internationally acclaimed non-profit organization, founded in 1962 by movie star Betty Garrett, and is the oldest continually running theatre company in Los Angeles.

For more information, call Stephen Box at 323.864.7586 or email [email protected]

Fill out the form below to RSVP and add questions you want us to ask the critics.
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To listen to the Critics Panel from earlier this year, visit https://soundcloud.com/betterlemons/meet-the-critics-panel-june-2018.

To get connected, join us this Saturday, October 27, 10am-12noon at Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, LA, CA 90068


"Meet the Critics" Panel Podcast

On Saturday, June 2, Better Lemons and Theatre West hosted “Meet the Critics!” featuring several of LA's premier critics for a panel discussion of theatre criticism.

The following critics attended:

Shari Barrett from Broadway World
Shari Barrett, a Los Angeles native, has been active in the theater world since the age of six - acting, singing, and dancing her way across the boards all over town. Shari now dedicates her time and focuses her skills as a theater reviewer, entertainment columnist, and publicist to ""get the word out"" about theaters of all sizes throughout the Los Angeles area.
Dale Reynolds from Edge Media Network
Dale Reynolds, a SoCal native, has been a critic for theatre, film and DVD since 1970, for a wide variety of outlets in NYC and L.A., including StageAndCinema.com, StageHappenings.com, EDGELosAngeles.com, and for Frontiers Magazine for many years, in addition to being West Coast Editor of A&U Magazine for four years.
Monique LeBleu from Los Angeles Beat
Monique A. LeBleu is a reviewer, writer, photographer, videographer, shameless foodie and wineaux. She has won multi JACC Journalism awards for her feature writing, critical journalism, and social media statewide competitions.
Patrick Chavis from LA Theatre Bites
Patrick Chavis is the creator, designer, podcast writer, and head editor of LA Theatre Bites. Because of the massive size of the Los Angeles area and its theatre presence, Patrick decided his reviews should take the form of podcasts en lieu of more traditionally written articles. He is also one of the creators of the Orange County based theatre review site, the Orange Curtain Review.
Bill Raden from LA Weekly
Since Bill wrote his first review for LA Weekly over 30 years ago, he has covered theater on both coasts, won multiple awards for his political journalism, and today continues to focus on Los Angeles' experimental and intimate stage scenes for LA Weekly as well as for the online stage journal, Stage Raw.
Leigh Kennicott from ShowMag
Leigh Kennicott has an extensive background in theatre, film and television and a Ph.D. degree in Theatre, awarded in 2002. A writer, director and actor, Leigh Kennicott began theatrical reviewing at Backstage, followed by Pasadena Weekly and Stage Happenings blog before joining showmag.com in 2018.
Katie Buenneke from Stage Raw
Katie has been a theater critic for over a decade, and has been reviewing Los Angeles theater for 7 years. She ran Neon Tommy's theater section for three years before freelancing for LA Weekly for another three years. She joined the LA Drama Critics Circle in 2015, and she's currently a regular contributor to Stage Raw. She earned her BA in theater and MFA in film producing from USC.
Jordan Riefe from The Hollywood Reporter
Currently serves as West Coast theatre critic for The Hollywood Reporter, while also covering art and culture for The Guardian, Cultured Magazine, and KCET Artbound. Cover theater for OC Register/Coast Magazine in Orange County and theatre and film for LA Weekly. Assigned beat for THR focuses on touring productions of Broadway shows.
Ernest Kearney from The TVolution
He is presently the cultural critic for The TVolution.com.
Michael Van Duzer from This Stage LA
Michael Van Duzer has reviewed opera performances, both locally and nationally, for over 30 years in a variety of print and online media outlets. After leaving his job in 2014, he was finally able to add theatre to his reviewing schedule.
Ryan M Luevano from Tin Pan LA
Ryan Luévano is a professor of music at Woodbury University and Santa Ana College. During the summers he is a regular teaching artist at A Noise Within Theatre Company in Pasadena. When he's not making music he pens as a theater critic for his blog Tin Pan L.A. where you can read all about the L.A. theater scene.