I suspect the Las Vegas Theatre Arts Production Show podcast doesn't have much of a worldwide audience. But in the local theater community, it's a must-listen.
The program is populated by four hosts in their 20s and 30s - Benjamin Loewy, Lysander Abadia, Maxim Lardent and Karalyn Clark - who are not just entertaining audio personalities, but showbiz folks and perceptive critics. Their discussions about Vegas plays will probably have you questioning your own strong opinions.
On Jan. 30 they'll be celebrating their show's second anniversary by broadcasting from the Onyx Theatre (953 E. Sahara Ave.) with a studio audience made up of whomever feels like dropping in.
The format allows a thorough reporting of current events that includes upcoming performances and auditions, as well as interviews with the people who make drama, capped by what they call a "bitch session" which involves - well, let's just say it depends on what mood the hosts are in.
I was a recent guest and was surprised that the "studio" is a tiny, unfinished room in Loewy's home - lots of wires, a microphone and headset for each speaker, and a computer screen crowded with updated information. There's barely room for a cup of coffee. I felt as if I were an adolescent again in a friend's basement pretending to be an airwave star. Yet the sound is professionally clean.
What makes the show special is that these hosts have something to say. To listen to them dissect a production is to get excited by the idea of ideas.
Abadia thinks heir purpose differs from the "average" critic's.
"We're (theater) artists reviewing other artists," he says. "(It helps) knowing the artists and knowing where they come from."
"It helps and it's a hindrance," Loewy says. "We work with these people (so) we come out with a different perspective. We want all of them to be supported."
That may be, but it doesn't prevent them from speaking their minds. Loewy tries to be the funny one (he does a mean Jennifer Hudson impression). Abadia giggles a lot and tends to play the good cop. Clark excels at keeping the boys on subject (usually). And Lardent is the silent, mysterious lurker who has a penchant for darting home surprising, dangerous zingers.
They're aware some people in the arts don't always welcome their frankness, even though their critical reactions are tempered with a nurturing hand.
"It's about making the art better," Loewy says. "We're telling (those involved) that this is what we saw in the audience."
"As a performer, I feel I need feedback," Clark says. "(Actors) don't really know what effect they're having on people."
LVTAPS is Loewy's brainchild. He's had a studio at home since childhood. Abadia got involved because "I got tired of hearing people say there's no theater, there are no auditions."
The podcast has helped unite many once-isolated troupes.
Abadia proudly says, "People are actually now speaking to each other. They're sharing resources."
(The Jan. 30 Onyx interview is at 8 p.m. and will be posted Feb. 4 at lvtaps.com, where you can access past programs.)
Anthony Del Valle can be reached at vegastheaterchat@ aol.com.You can write him c/o Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125.