Larry Stark (born August 4, 1932 in New Brunswick,
New Jersey) is an American journalist
and reviewer best known for his in-depth coverage of the Boston
theater scene at his website, Theater Mirror.
and online, Stark has written hundreds of reviews of local
productions and Broadway tryouts from 1962 to the present. His
Boston readers have given him such labels as "head theater angel of
Massachusetts" and "Dean of the alternative theater critics."
1950 and 1956, Stark studied English at Rutgers
University, leaving New Jersey for Cambridge,
Massachusetts in January, 1957.
In 1956-57 he co-edited
the publication Stellar
with Ted White
, who recalled:
- I lavished more care on the package than I did on the contents.
The contents were good. Larry Stark was a good editor -- much
better than I, then -- and when he dropped out I'd learned enough
from him to keep up the standards, but the material was mostly by
In the summer and fall of 1957, Stark acted in two Harvard stage
productions and then worked backstage at Cambridge theaters for the
next five years. In 1962, he began doing theater reviews for MIT's
under the pseudonym
Charles Foster Ford. During this period he used a basement
mimeograph machine to print the work of local poets with his Larry
Stark Press, notable for publishing Peter Guralnick
's first book in 1964.
Stark was the first to write theater reviews for the alternative
weekly, Boston After
, providing a continual coverage of Boston and
Broadway-bound productions during the years 1966 to 1972. After
circulating his own short-lived review publication, Theatre
, he contributed to Time Out
, a free college
paper published by The
. During the 1980s, he wrote for
Wisconsin's La Crosse
Returning to the Boston area, he acquired a computer which he used
to create fiction and also to write theater reviews posted on
General Electric's online service, GEnie
1994, he launched Theater Mirror, an informative online guide to
England theatres and stage productions.
insightful reviews and entertaining commentary by Stark, plus a
continual flow of reviews submitted by several other contributors,
Theater Mirror became a focal point for Boston actors, directors
and theatergoers over the years. The Plays Up and Running section of
Theater Mirror offers an alphabetical listing of current
productions throughout New England with links to theatres from
Connecticut to Maine.
Theater Mirror Archive has reviews by Stark and others dating back
Stark's approach is much like that of film critic Pauline Kael
, simply to describe "what it's
about," and he often attempts to capture the essence of a play
stylistically, as in this 2001 review of Conor McPherson's The
- Now it's no secret the Irish is great ones for the tellin of
stories, especially in them small rural bars in the Northwest
country where Conor McPherson sets his hour and a half slice o'life
"The Weir". Surely there's not much else to do but to drink and to
gossip with a few mates of an afternoon. And once a "small one" or
two's been chased down with a bottle of stout, them tales of
somethin strange and maybe supernatural just come tumblin out.
Better that than a lonely walk home with the wind in yer face,
isn't it, now?
- The tales start with what was once heard of a Faerie Road and a
knockin in the night, and spirals slowly in toward the personal --
of a figure seen waitin on a stair, of a dead man pointin out his
own gravesite, of a phone-call from a dead child. And sure, all
these tales come hedged about with doubts and with maybe; they
could all be explained away. But it's true too that Rick Lombardo
at that New Rep out Newton way has assembled a bunch of
blarney-tongued boyo's will fair make a whole hundred hearers quit
breathin just to catch the next word.
- And with names like Richard McIlvain an' Colin Hammell and
Billy Meleady and Barry M. Press you can be sure the brogue is as
thick as a workboot's sole, but as the night moves on and old
grudges move on to newer confessions, these tavern orators tear
into McPherson's script like sculptors carving time. For it's not
each word but each meaning they make clear. And as three of them
are unmarried, sure it's Dee Nelson as a woman up from Dublin, out
of the tourist season, is their chosen audience for the night --
and she with a story of her own, if she finds friends enough to
tell it to.
- And sure, it's a broke-down bar Richard Chambers has built out
there, with the Guinness pump not workin and Daniel Meeker's lights
makin a peat-fire glow so that Eileen Bouvier dresses them all in
workaday woollens to keep the chill out and the whiskey-warmth in.
But it's more than a few blazin peat bricks and a coupla small ones
makes that inner glow on the New rep stage, I'm tellin ya.
- Y'aughta feel it for yerselves.
Larry Stark Press published Peter Guralnick's second book in
A first edition is currently valued at $200.
Stark's book, A Theater Lover's Guide to 90 Theatres in
, was published in 2001. For The Tech
, 38 years
earlier, he wrote A Guide to Harvard Square's 15
On August 10
Stark was honored by the Boston theater community at a special
tribute and celebration of his 74th birthday.
Actress-filmmaker Bernice Liuson Sim of RedDragonfly Films has
worked on a documentary about Stark titled Stark Review: The
Heart of Boston Theater
. On September 17,
2006, pilot footage for Stark Review was screened for an
audience of 600 in Arlington, Massachusetts, and 12 days later, Sim, Stark and co-producer
Kevin Anderton discussed the Stark Review project with
film critic Daniel Berman on Brookline Access
- SF Five Yearly
- The Tech
- Plays Up and Running
- Theater Mirror Archive
- "A Guide to Harvard Square's 15 Bookstores"
(February 6, 1963)
- Brookline Access
- RedDragonfly Films: Bernice Liuson Sim