Lee Melville was the founding editor of the theater news website LA Stage Times and its print predecessor, LA Stage. He has died according to a story on the site. Terence McFarland, the CEO of publisher the LA Stage Alliance, posted a statement.
"I am deeply saddened by Lee Melville’s passing. He was the most extraordinary advocate Los Angeles theater has known. The entire community owes a debt of gratitude to Lee and his work on our behalf. I will miss most his post-show lean-in, followed by “What did you think?” with that smirk of his mischievous eyes. Thank you, Lee, for a life well spent in the theater. You will be truly missed.”
The actor, director and journalist Steve Julian interviewed Melville for the website two years ago. Excerpt:
When Lee Melville smiles, his eyes beat him to it.
The editor-in-chief of this publication, LA STAGE Times, smiles frequently as he reminisces over his 50-year career in theater: actor, stage manager, producer, critic, editor. His outstanding contributions to theater, principally in Los Angeles, prompted Playwrights’ Arena artistic director Jon Lawrence Rivera this year to rename the company’s prestigious award after Melville....
McFarland calls Melville “a huge resource for me since I was brand new to this community. Lee is our living archive of Los Angeles theater knowledge — fact, innuendo and scandal!”
While Melville may be one to hold his tongue with innuendo and scandal, history shows him capable of writing scathing reviews. “I was harsh. I know I was,” he says. “I stopped reviewing in 1989 and, over 20 years later, people still come up to me and say I gave them a horrible review. Sometimes they even quote it!...”
He laments, “Reviewing is a thankless job. The trouble with reviewing is if you’re going to be honest then you’re going to have to be somewhat brutal. You try to finesse it the best you can, but…”
In the 1970s Melville began a 12-year run as editor-in-chief of Drama-Logue.
Photo of Melville: Michael Lamont