Thursday, December 10, 2015

Miami Herald theater critic Christine Dolen to retire after 40 years at the paper

Long-time Miami Herald theater critic Christine Dolen is leaving the paper after 40 years and thousands of reviews.

Here's what friend and former colleague Ellie Brecher had to say about Dolen in an email:
Chritine Dolen. 
"Christine Dolen can't be replaced. Period. She's as much of a South Florida arts institution as the brick-and-mortar venues that present the shows she covered. She has an encyclopedic knowledge of the American theatre and is the institutional memory of theatre in South Florida. Her reviews were always thoughtful and detailed, but accessible. Each one was a little bit of theatre education. They spoke to both the novice and the aficionado in ways that satisfied both. She could be sharply critical without ever being nasty or degrading. As a colleague, Chris was uniquely gracious, helpful and kind. Her beat wasn't just her job; it was her life."

And here's an email sent by Herald executive editor Mindy Marques to staffers last Monday:
Bittersweet news: After 42 years with us, Christine Dolen has decided to retire.

The daughter of an actor, Chris grew up reading theater reviews. Too shy to take to the stage herself, she found the perfect marriage of her two passions – writing and the arts – in theater criticism.

She took her first job at the Columbus Dispatch, where she was a copy editor and wrote freelance theater and movie reviews. In 1974, she landed a job at the Detroit Free Press as its pop music critic and a features copy editor. She joined the Miami Herald in 1976 and in 1979 became theater critic, a job she has held to this day.

She was a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University in 1984-85, and a senior fellow at Columbia University’s National Arts Journalism program in 1999. In 1997, she was a member of the Pulitzer Prize drama jury.

Over the years, her deep knowledge of theater and her incisive coverage have earned many accolades, among them the Green Eyeshade in criticism from the Atlanta Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and first place in arts writing in the Missouri Lifestyle Journalism Awards.

In 2001, she received the George Abbott Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts. In November 2011, American Theatre Magazine named her as one of the country’s dozen most influential theater critics. Her blog, Drama Queen, appears on the Miami Herald’s web site, and she has contributed to both American Theatre and Inside Arts magazines. She has also been an editorial board member of Best Plays Theater Yearbook.

In the past year, in addition to her theater coverage, Chris has written and edited arts content for the Herald and handled the Thursday Tropical Life section.

​Her more recent honors include the Silver Palm Award (2014) for her many years of coverage of the theater community; the Remy Award from the South Florida Theatre League (2015) for service to the theater community; and a certificate of appreciation from the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center (2015) for many years of covering the work of the African American Performing Arts Community Theater.

​She was also the commencement speaker for New World School of the Arts in 2014.

Her long list of story subjects includes the top artists of our time – from Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and Led Zeppelin to Lin-Manuel Miranda, George Abbott, Agnes De Mille, Jerome Robbins, Cameron Mackintosh, Edward Albee, Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller.

Over her career, Christine has seen at least 4,000 plays and musicals. On her all-time best list: the nine-hour "Nicholas Nickleby" with Roger Rees on Broadway; "Cyrano de Bergerac" with Derek Jacobi in Los Angeles; and this year’s "Hamilton" on Broadway.

​She has been at the forefront of South Florida’s burgeoning theater scene. She attended the first table reading at New Theatre of Nilo Cruz's "Anna in the Tropics," which went on to win the Pulitzer Prize. And she has tracked the careers of Miami artists who have gone on to receive national and international acclaim – the likes of Tarell Alvin McCraney and Raul Esparza.

Chris' sign-off quote: "I'm glad to have had the opportunity, story by story, review by review, to chronicle the history of South Florida theater for the past 36 years.​"

​None of these biographical notes capture Christine’s warmth and humility. Nor can they convey how much she will be missed. We wish her a rich and fulfilling retirement. We’ll give her a proper Herald-style send-off before her last day on Dec. 18.

Kendall, Rick & Mindy

Aminda Marqués Gonzalez
Executive Editor & Vice President
3511 NW 91 Avenue,

Miami, FL 33172


Aug 21, 1982: Play it again, Burt -- the theater is a success

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