John Whittum: Coverage lacking

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The Steamboat Springs Orchestra's extraordinary performance last weekend went by unrecognized (and unnoticed, except in its Happenings and 4 Points) by the Steamboat Pilot & Today. John Sant'Ambrogio's rendition of the Saint-Saens cello concerto, played on his highly resonant and deeply vibrant 18th-century instrument, seemed to strongly affect and excite an audience that had packed the Steamboat Christian Center.

Ernst Richardson's conducting was equally superlative - exacting and crisp in direction, he also led the orchestra through the challenging score of Beethoven's First Symphony.

The Steamboat Community Players' exciting production of "Arsenic and Old Lace" last month also went unreviewed by our local newspaper (although it was given a promotional piece in Four Points).

Like the musicians, the cast and crew of the Players are locally talented enthusiasts who have practiced and rehearsed innumerable hours before production dates. These people represent the heart and soul of our local performing arts community. Few towns of less than 10,000 people possess anything like the musical and dramatic genius that is present in Steamboat Springs.

How is it that our local newspaper will devote countless columns of space-filling stories of little local interest and yet neglect what makes our community so artistically alive? How often are we presented with inane and irrelevant articles? (Does anyone in our town want to read about the difficulties of commuting to community colleges in Florida?)

The Pilot & Today may cover local politics and sports fairly well, but it seems to take little interest in local arts. There was a time when the paper did take such an interest. I can remember well-written reviews (some authored by Tom Ross) of local high school dramatic productions. What accounts for the newspaper's present indifference? Money? Would it cost so much to send a reporter to cover local artistic productions? Talent? Can the paper not find sufficient expertise to write knowledgeable, articulate reviews that would recognize our efforts?

Pilot & Today editors may take some pride on having established a newspaper community where we citizens are dependent on its pages. I would suggest, however, that they could take greater pride if they truly provided us with a community newspaper.

John Whittum

Steamboat Springs

Comments

Matthew Stoddard 8 years ago

Thanks, John. Also, thanks for you call after "Arsenic and Old Lace." We all appreciate your words!

As for Allison Plean, I am so glad she has taken over 4 Points. I can understand that she can't always review shows, but she is at least more detail-oriented than her predecessor. After "The Rocky Horror Show," Alexis de la Cruz also did a nice follow-up on the show.

I wish we could get a true review for our shows, but unless we're running more than a single weekend, it doesn't help as much after the fact. Just the fact that people like you, John, get the word out helps us immensely. It's people like you that appreciate the shows we do that make it all worthwhile doing them.

So again: Thanks, John. Hopefully, I can work with you on the stage again. Been 6yrs since "Signatures;" it's time for you to get back up there!!

Matt Stoddard

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Michael Brumbaugh 8 years ago

I also want to add my thanks to John's comments. I attended the orchestra concert and truly was blown away at the professional sound and the entertaining program! I am constantly amazed at the talent evident in our community. I also directed "Arsenic...", so I can verify the tremendous amount of effort cast and crew exerted to create outstanding performances of that American classic.

I believe the relative lack of "reviewing" coming from the Pilot for these and similar performances is primarily a result of us being a small community. It would be difficult to give a "negative" review of a performance, knowing full well you might bump into those folks at Safeway that you just reviewed. I understand this type of thing has happened before, and it wasn't very pleasant.

Also, I really wouldn't want a review of shows in which I was involved where the reviewer wasn't able or willing to devote extra time to researching and understanding the context of the piece being performed, as well as writing thoughtful remarks related to individual performances and production values. Ms. Plean certainly has elevated the reporting of productions, which is to be commended, but I would almost rather have NO "review" of a performance than one which briefly states subjective reactions.

For instance, as nice as it was to have a "reaction" to "Diary of Anne Frank" in a small 4 Points article, the statement that the best part about it was the accents of the various characters really was a disservice to the creators of that production. The acting overall was very impressive for high schoolers, and the direction and set design were better than other productions I've seen in the short time I've been here, but these items were not covered in much depth.

My "solution" to this dilemma would not necessarily be to point fingers at the Pilot since I don't think our community as a whole yet really supports the performing arts as much as they do sports. I see that, however, as a challenge to those of us wanting to raise the bar of what our community can produce. If we continue to create quality programs (which is happening), folks will come and the support will grow. I think our dance concerts and the orchestra are certainly examples of that (and hopefully, the theatrical arts are becoming). And, as Matt so nicely put it above, people will get the word out to others.

I also want to thank the folks who came out for "The Eight: Reindeer Monologues"! Even though there was controversy in another thread online here, there were certainly enough of you that were intrigued to show up. And, we had almost full houses every night! The reaction I received was that it was a great show, and folks were quite impressed with it overall. As a performer, as Matt said, that's really why we do it. To entertain, to please, to challenge, to amuse, to make people think, and to help create community.

Thanks again!

Mike Brumbaugh "Donner"

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