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Best Theater Blogs of 2011

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During 2011, I decided to blog about my favorite theater blogs, featuring one for each month. Now that 2011 draws to a close, I'd like to ring in the New Year by celebrating these hard-working writers, critics, and theater devotees. Keep up the good work, everyone!

#1) A Younger Theatre

I have always felt that theaters, both professional and amateur, should speak to younger generations; that way, the arts will continue to thrive throughout the ages. A Younger Theatre was created by Jake Orr in 2009 and quickly evolved into a very lively web presence. A brilliant combination of insight and enthusiasm, not to mention a very fresh visual design, this became my number one spot to find out what's happening in the West End.

#2) Steppenwolf's Massive Draft

For a few months this year, I was very saddened to see the blog posts of the Chacgo-based theater website (Steppenwolf.org) evaporate into the cyber-ether. Fortunately, they aren't gone; they've just revamped and reinvented themselves. This new off-shoot of the Steppenwolf Theater is actually brings together many blog-thoughts from up-and-coming playwrights. If you are interested in new American playwrights, then you must explore Massive Draft.

#3) The Craptacular

Snarky reviews and inside news -- throw in a few top ten lists of hot Broadway stars, and you have one of the most engaging Broadway blogs of the year. The Craptacular is written by two women who go by "Lucky" (who provides a chronological list of her Broadway crushes) and "the Mick" (who seems a kindred spirit of mine based upon our mutual admiration for The Secret Garden).

#4) About Last Night

The most recent winner to be featured in our "Blog of the Month' series, this blog is spearheaded by one of my favorite drama critics, Terry Teachout. (Mr. T isn't the only contributor, either. Two other bloggers round things out, covering Chicago and other theater hot spots.) Teachout and his colleagues offer friendly advice on what to see, which shows will be closing soon, and which fellow bloggers are are worth reading.

#5) Berkeley Repertory Theater Blog

I fall in love with theater blogs for a lot of difference reasons. Sometimes it's simply the catchy writing style. Sometimes it's because of constant and consistent, at least five days a week. Of course, I also gravitate to blogs that don't just publicize upcoming shows but promote education in the arts. Berkeley Repertory Theatre's blog does all of this; moreover, the blog features a wide variety of voices. Just about anyone involved with Berkley Rep contributes to the website -- from the master carpenter to the theater's teen council members.

#6) Unscripted - A Blog for Actors

This blog is one of many components to Backstage.com. It's a great place to learn about the craft and the business. And if you're will to pay for a subscription, their website features a comprehensive search engine that lets users sort through casting notices for movies, television programs, and my obvious favorite, live theater. If you live near a large city, in North America or Europe, Backstage provides plenty of opportunities for both union and non-union performers.

#7) Arthur Lloyd

Instead of critiquing the present day theater, this website studies the history of the stage. In fact, it's not really a blog in the conventional sense. It's more like an online museum dedicated to the history of music halls and London Theaters, as well as a once famous song-writer of the 1800s, Arthur Lloyd. Website creator Matthew Lloyd began his project in 2001, hoping to build awareness of his great-grandfather's impressive (but now little known) career as an actor and song writer. In the process of telling the story of his theatrical ancestors, Matthew also unveils the rich history of English theater, with a particular emphasis on theater architecture and archival photographs.

#8) Adventures of an Actress

she has been keeping an up-to-date record of her professional endeavors, detailing the highs and lows of being a working actress in the Los Angeles area. Secondly, when she isn't going from one audition to the next, she is busy creating her own comedy web-series, Diary of a Wedding Planner. Her website also features a comprehensive list of resources valuable to seasoned veterans or curious novices. Check out the list of resources Ms. Ford has compiled.

#9) Performing Arts @ About.com

Yes, the last two blogs are from fellow About.com Guides -- but don't let my obvious bias prevent you from exploring these amazing writers. First up is Angela Mitchell's Guidesite to everything related to the Performing Arts. If you are interested in costume design, stage management, choreography, theater fund raising, and hundreds of other topics, this is an excellent resource for both professional and non-profit organizations.

#10) Theater @ About.com

If Trish Causey, Guide to Theater, asks why she is on the bottom of my Top Ten List, I don't have a good reason -- except blatant jealousy. Here I am, living on the West Coast, occasionally getting the "dregs" of Broadways whenever shows happen to drift this way on a national tour. And there she is, interviewing Broadway stars in the "Algonquin Hotel in the heart of the Broadway theatre district." So, yes, I'm jealous! But, envy aside, Trish offers great reviews, fun surveys, and engaging Broadway news.

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