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Featured Contributors, Dec. 2018

An overdue focus on designers, and a look at 2 new books on Broadway songwriters.

Cameron Kelsall. (Photo by Danielle Corcione)

“Design elements often get the short shrift in theatre reviews,” notes Philadelphia critic Cameron Kelsall. He counts himself guilty on this count too: Most critics, he says, “focus primarily on the script, the direction, and the performances; it’s not uncommon for the sets, costumes, and lighting to be dispatched in a single sentence or a parenthetical aside, if at all.” So he was delighted to sit down with busy Philly scenic designer Colin McIlvaine for this month’s Role Call: People to Watch issue—not just because it was a lively conversation but because it “maybe makes up for the times when I should have treated his work more thoroughly in a review.”

Lisa Jo Sagolla. (Photo by Michael Ian)

Choreographer/critic Lisa Jo Sagolla, who teaches dance education at Columbia and Rutgers universities and has written books on popular dance, confesses herself a “sucker for sentimentality ensconced in gorgeous melodies,” which made reviewing two new books about Rodgers & Hammerstein and Andrew Lloyd Webber less like work than “pure pleasure.” As she’s currently working on a book about the role of Pennsylvania’s Bucks County in shaping America’s musical theatre, the subject matter of Something Wonderful and Unmasked “dovetails with my own research interests, so my personal investment in wanting to digest material these books had to offer was enormous.” Her biggest surprise, she says: “Who knew Andrew Lloyd Webber had such an appealing sense of humor?”

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