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Nepotism tarnishing College of Southern Nevada’s theater program

This week, there’s trouble in educational circles.

I hate to start December off with a “Bah, humbug!,” but I think even Charles Dickens would agree this situation is worthy of one. What can be going on in the head of College of Southern Nevada theater chief Doug Baker?

In the past, Baker has used his position to give himself at the school three lead roles in three consecutive musicals. He’s hired his daughter-in-law to do costumes. He’s performed a one-man “Christmas Carol.” He hired his son earlier this season to co-write a musical. And now, staring at us from a slick college brochure is the face of another son, announcing his performance in this year’s Dickens tale.

It must be swell to have Baker as Daddy. While ordinary folks — students and community members — have to struggle to get work, Baker’s kin just need to take advantage of their father’s position. I think we call this nepotism. There are plenty of people in Vegas (and perhaps a few students) who could do the jobs Baker is doling out to his family, and if he doesn’t know where to find them, I can point the way. What a disgrace that an institution supported by tax dollars is being used to further Baker and his children’s careers. How can it be that the college allows this?

I’m not necessarily criticizing the quality of the Baker clan work. Baker’s starring as “Sweeney Todd” was a joke, since he made the raging mad serial killer a loving, grandfatherly type. But his son’s original play “Glee” this season was fun. And if the upcoming “Christmas Carol” is well-done, I’ll be leading the cheering section.

But that’s not the point.

Baker seems to have a skewed outlook on what his obligations are to family versus the community. If he and his tribe want to do theater, why don’t they stand in line at other playhouses in town and pitch their talents? This strikes me as the sort of nonsense you see in isolated small towns. You’d think Vegas’ college theater programs would have grown up by now and gotten past this silly School of Preferential Treatment. …

In a similar vein (but not quite), Nevada Conservatory Theatre faculty member Michael Tylo is playing Scrooge this year. Last year, I complained that Tylo had leading roles in three out of five mainstage productions. Now, this makes it four out of six. How much can students be learning by being so overexposed to the acting techniques of one man? …

In a recent review of Nevada Conservatory Theatre’s “Miss Julie,” I misstated the name of the gifted lighting designer. My reference to him should have read, “Josh Wroblewski’s lighting helps convey subtle shifts in dramatic tension.”

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.

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