Friday, May 24, 2013

Godfather of Los Angeles Theater - Lee Melville - Dies

While Lee Melville never placed a horse's head in anyone's bed (that we know of, at least), he nevertheless oversaw the Los Angeles theater scene - from the temples of Bunker Hill to the basement 39 seat non-equity waiver theaters striving to be 99 seat equity waiver theaters - in ways no one else did.  From his multiple vantage points as a  writer, as a producer, as a critic, as the founder of the Drama-Logue awards and as the founder of the LA Stage Times, no matter what happened in the LA theater world during the past fifty plus years Lee Melville was there.

And he always had something to say.

Here is the post on his passing at the LA Stage Times followed by the start of the article published when the Playwright's Arena award was named in his honor:

Lee Melville Dies

by LA Stage Alliance | May 23, 2013
Lee Melville
Lee Melville. Photo by Michael Lamont.
Lee Melville, the founding editor of LA STAGE Times and its predecessor, the print magazine LA STAGE, has died. Terence McFarland, the CEO of LA STAGE Alliance which publishes LA STAGE Times, issued this statement last night:
“I am deeply saddened by Lee Melville’s passing. He was the most extraordinary advocate Los Angeles theater has known. The entire community owes a debt of gratitude to Lee and his work on our behalf. I will miss most his post-show lean-in, followed by “What did you think?” with that smirk of his mischievous eyes. Thank you, Lee, for a life well spent in the theater. You will be truly missed.”
Others who would like to submit memories of Lee Melville, for possible publication in a tribute article next week, should email their stories and remarks to LA STAGE Times editor-in-chief Deborah Behrens at Details of a public memorial tribute will be published here when available.
Here is an article by Steve Julian about Melville that appeared in LA STAGE Times two years ago:

Playwrights’ Arena Award Renamed in Honor of Lee Melville

When Lee Melville smiles, his eyes beat him to it.
The editor-in-chief of this publication, LA STAGE Times, smiles frequently as he reminisces over his 50-year career in theater: actor, stage manager, producer, critic, editor. His outstanding contributions to theater, principally in Los Angeles, prompted Playwrights’ Arena artistic director Jon Lawrence Rivera this year to rename the company’s prestigious award after Melville.
“It’s a real honor,” says Melville, in one of two cozy lobby chairs at LA STAGE Alliance, not 20 feet from his office that awaits renovation from a seeming storage room to something habitable. “In 2005 I was honored with the Playwrights’ Arena Award along with Emily Kuroda and Diane Rodriguez. Jon usually honors three or four people a year.”
We sit close, too, to Terence McFarland’s office. McFarland enjoyed a 12-year stint in the New York fashion and publishing business before completing both his bachelor’s of fine arts and MFA at CalArts. In 2003 he became LA STAGE Alliance’s executive director and shared the Playwrights’ Arena Award last year with Ben Guillory and Madeline Puzo.
McFarland calls Melville “a huge resource for me since I was brand new to this community. Lee is our living archive of Los Angeles theater knowledge — fact, innuendo and scandal!”
For the rest of the article go to the LA  Stage Times website.

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