Kory of 102 newest member of Cleveland Critics Circle
Members of the Cleveland Critics Circle, the official organization of area theater reviewers and critics, come from various backgrounds. Some are college professors and teachers, some are professional reporters and writers, others are public relations experts. There is even a life coach in the mix. But they have one thing in common, they all have strong theatre backgrounds as directors, actors, producers or have studied theatre history and playwrighting. That is, except for the newest member, Christopher Beale, known professionally as Kory.
Beale, was brought up in Apopka, Florida. He recounts that he was a kid with ADD, on Ritalin, who was a “dork.” In high school he was, in his words, “obnoxious, brave, insecure, and bullied.” He took several actions during that time that has set him on an interesting life path. In his freshman year he came out as gay. Part of the reason for his actions was his self-acknowledged “not afraid to be different.” Then, after his third freshman year, he decided that school wasn’t for him, and dropped out.
His path led to Disneyworld and eventually, because of his deep, resonant voice, to a job in radio. As he explains it, “I went to work at a little psychotic libertarian station connected to the Liberty Works Radio Network.” The job came about because he made a demo on a computer, contacted a number of stations on Friendster, and was hired as an intern. He moved to Maryland . After they found out he was gay, he was fired.
Not to be deterred, he moved back to Orlando, made another demo and got a job with Metro Traffic as their weekend traffic reporter and camera operator on a helicopter. Eventually he was hired as the overnight weekend dj at Y-100 Miami. Remember, this is a young kid, a high school dropout, competing in a world of many college trained and educated professionals. After a disastrous experience in Boston, he was offered a job in Colorado Springs. After three years there, the still twenty-something year old, wound up in Gainesville, then Orlando, and finally in Cleveland.
How did he get into theatre reviewing? The same serendipity that has followed him throughout his life reared its head. He went to see a production of ALTAR BOYZ and hung out with the cast. One of the cast members suggested, after hearing him comment on the show, that he write a review. Why not? He went into radio with no training or background, why not reviewing? He posted the critique on the station’s media list. It started to get hits. He was on his way to being a self-declared reviewer.
His commentaries don’t follow the usual approach of evaluating the production aspects of a show. Since he has never been in a play, except for one-line in kindergarten, never has directed nor read scripts, and has no formal theatre educational background, he writes from his gut. Kory believes that the average theatergoer isn’t a theatre expert either. He states, “They are looking for entertainment and something that they have never done before. I write from that perspective.”
Why should someone pay any attention to his views? He says, “I don’t represent what I know about. I only know what I saw when I went to the theatre.” He seems to be learning on the job. His reviewing skills have increasingly had more depth. He admits that “since doing reviews and reading the writings of others, I’ve has started to do research about the shows I see.”
He doesn’t actually read the reviews on air. He mentions a show a couple of times. He leads his listeners to his blog site, where the entire review resides. He often interviews cast and production members. “If there is a live interview, a segment is presented on air and my blog links to the interview.”
Some comments about his reviews include: “When I look at a show, I put it on a curve based on the kind of theatre I’m reviewing.” “I have the benefit of going into the theatre as an uneducated theatre-goer, so I go in fresh faced.” “I don’t claim to be an expert, but I know good entertainment when I see it.” “My bottom line is, if I had spent $90 to see this show would I have been feeling ripped off?”
Some might question whether Kory’s reviews have credibility. The answer depends on your viewpoint. If you are one who believes that there must be some educational and experiential basis for evaluation of any art form, whether it is painting, dance, music or theatre, then Kory’s background isn’t going to lead you to his blog. If, on the other hand, you want a gut level reaction to a show, Kory, is probably your man. There are many in town who seemingly buy into his perspective as the number of hits on his blog keep increasing!
To read a sampling of Kory and reviews of the other Cleveland Critics Circle members go to www.clevelandtheaterreivews.com