Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in Review

Since this is the end of my first year at this blog, I decided I really needed to sum it all up somehow. Should I write a best-of? Expectations and disappointments? Some sort of free-form essay on How I Spent My Year Blogging?

I dunno. None of that really appeals to me. And yet I need to mark this one-year anniversary thing somehow. Before January 2010, I had never blogged. And now I'm doing two of them. I've had a good time writing one for Heartland Theatre under the Think Theater banner at the Peoria Journal-Star online, and I think it's pretty cool to be able to see Heartland's story in the second half of the year by putting together all those blog posts.

As for A Follow Spot, my own personal blog... It's harder to assess.

Is it what I expected? I don't think I necessarily knew enough about blogging to have any expectations.

Is it good? I may be a critic, but that doesn't mean I can judge whether my own work, well, works. I hope so. I hope I've done what I set out to do, which was give a spotlight -- even a small one -- to some of the artists and works of art I came across this year. Print media is in even worse shape than when I started, so maybe my blog has been a step in the right direction to keep talking about actors and artists and authors. And maybe we can brighten that spotlight in 2011.

I can tell you that I have enjoyed the heck out of having a place to write what I want to write, cover the shows and movies and books and music I want to cover, and in general, engage in a spirited discussion with my friends and colleagues. I wish the discussion involved more people. I know you're reading out there -- I see the stats -- but not as many people as I would like feel moved to comment. Or maybe people think registering is too tough (you can always post anonymously without registering) or too intimidating (I love discussion and disagreement, as long as it's not nasty or unpleasant or personal) or just too all-around complicated. But if you want to comment, please do. I'd love to hear from you.

As for 2010... Looking back, some of the shows that stand out for me are ISU's strong, emotional "Playboy of the Western World" and their bright and sassy "25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" as well as IWU's fresh, fun take on "Once Upon a Mattress," U of I and director Robert G. Anderson's stunning backstage, backwards"Macbeth" and Robert Quinlan's fierce "Iphigenia and Other Daughters," and Heartland's searing "Woman in Mind" with Lori Adams as the Alan Ayckbourn heroine who's spinning out of control. The Normal Theater has also had a good year for me, with all kinds of treats, like "Top Hat," "Sabrina," "Dr. Strangelove" and now "The Thin Man," among their offerings.

Outside central Illinois, I was impressed with Deborah Zoe Laufer's "Sirens" and Greg Kotis's "Examination of the Whole Playwright/Actor Relationship" at the Humana Festival, I loved every minute of the year-long Sondheim celebration and especially "Sondheim on Sondheim" on Broadway and his new book, "Finishing the Hat," and I was riveted by the entire season of "Mad Men" on TV.

I can't wait for the revival of "Arcadia," Tom Stoppard's amazing play, on Broadway, or the return of "Parks and Recreation," including U of I alum Nick Offerman, on NBC. Plus, of course, another season of "Mad Men," seeing how they write out Steve Carell on "The Office," and continuing my affair with my TV boyfriend Jon Stewart. And Jon Hamm. And Hugh Laurie.

Eleven is my favorite number, after all. So let's what 2011 can do to become my favorite year!


  1. What fun! You are doing a great job, Julie!! Keep it up!

  2. Your blog is wonderful, Julie. It's been a privilege to guest-write on it (3 times). I think it fills a real need, and I look forward to seeing what happens in 2011.

    I need to read your review of "Arcadia," for one thing! Best wishes to all for the new year.

  3. Thanks, both of you! I am SO hoping I can find a way to get to NY to see this new Arcadia. Funny we get revivals of two of my favorite plays of all time within six months of each other. I missed the Angels revival. Will I miss Arcadia, too? ARGH.