Welcome to www.comprofessor.com a.k.a. Lynch Coaching: Media and Communication Prof's News and Views from Art Lynch. This blog exists to stimulate critical thinking, provide information on communication and media, stimulate discussion and share ideas. For additional media and other news see also sagactoronline.com. Thank you and tell your friends. - Art Lynch
Leaning down at my friend’s bedside at UMC last month, I heard distressing words:
“What did I really do
that was worth anything?” Anthony Del Valle asked me, understandably
depressed as illness wracked his body and doubt clouded his mind. “All I
did was criticize people.”
Looking back over his
years as the dean of this city’s theater critics, that is the only
egregiously wrongheaded critique he ever issued.
Underscoring that was the crowd of local theater and media people gathered at Las Vegas Little Theatre on June 15 for a memorial to remember Del Valle. The longtime critic and columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Las Vegas CityLife—whose
pull-no-punches reviews were the barometer for community performers and
affected box-office sales throughout the city—died May 21 at age 60.
Among those on hand were Smith Center President Myron Martin, former Rep. Shelley Berkley, local actors TJ Larsen, Erik Amblad and Lysander Abadia, Onyx Theatre co-owner Michael Morse and colleagues from the R-J and CityLife.
Organized by local playwright/director Paul Thornton and Las Vegas Night Beat publisher
Bill Schafer, the 45-minute salute opted for celebration over mourning.
Setting the tone were musician Bill Fayne and actress Kellie Wright,
performing a witty paean to the love-hate relationship between critics
Tributes, both touching and funny, followed from friends and admirers, including CityLife’s arts
& entertainment editor Mike Prevatt, ex-film editor Anthony Allison
and myself. Tearing up, actress Amanda Kraft read a letter from
actor/director Brandon Burk, Del Valle’s close friend who is imprisoned
at the Southern Desert Correctional Center for causing a man’s death by
driving drunk in 2007.
Citing Del Valle’s tradition of bestowing his annual “Tony awards” in CityLife and the R-J,
Schafer announced that he still plans to establish similar honors in
the late critic’s name, despite some controversy over the value of
performance awards on Facebook recently.
Wrapping up the remembrance, Wright and Fayne led a sing-along to “There’s No Business Like Show Business.”
In the days following my
friend’s passing, Facebook posts poured in praising Del Valle’s
encyclopedic theatrical knowledge, his impact as a champion of community
theater by dint of his honest and insightful assessments, and his
one-on-one kindness and encouragement to local performers, playwrights
All true, yet the
appreciation likely would’ve surprised him, given that critics are
respected but rarely cherished, and antipathy toward his uncompromising
style often grew intense. Yet unlike in cities such as New York and Los
Angeles, where he would be one among many influential critical voices,
here in Vegas he emerged as the brand name for theater passion. (No
offense to other local critics, including myself, who toiled beside
In an American culture
where the creative nourishment of live theater is regarded as an
entertainment afterthought, my friend’s life’s work in this city was
damn near heroic, his contribution priceless. It should always be
remembered that way.
What did I really do that was worth anything? I can still hear him say in that hospital room.
Had he been hovering in
spirit as songs were sung in his honor, admiration and affection were
expressed and funny Tony stories were swapped, he’d have to concede that
just this once, others had the better critical perspective.