Friday, March 18, 2011

Off The Beaten Track: A Traveling Theatre... Site?

We all have heard of traveling theatres, but how about a traveling theatre site? Our guest this week is Karen Tortora-Lee, the managing Director, editor-in-chief, and founder of, who tells the story of how she’s taken her New York theatre review publication on the road. As a reviewer, she has covered everything from the Fringe Festival to the First Irish Festival, from the New York Musical Festival to the Midtown International Festival, and even the Fight Festival in Manhattan, Brooklyn and QueensShe currently serves as vice chair of the board of directors for Maieutic Theatre Works.


When I started in 2009, I had a very clear goal in mind I wanted to highlight, showcase, and celebrate the amazingly talented people I came in contact with every day. I wanted The Happiest Medium to be the virtual Elaine's a place where people could stop in for a while and see some regulars, or see some new faces, but always feel that they were welcomed ... and always know they were in an environment that was safe, inclusive, and fun. 

From the feedback we've consistently gotten so far, I have to say we've definitely created some sort of je ne sais quoi that people don't get from other sites. Maybe it's the little stars in the background. Okay, okay maybe it's really that we have some of the best dang contributors around (Antonio Minino, Dianna Martin, Geoffrey Paddy Johnson, Stephen Tortora-Lee, and Lina Zeldovich as well as fabulous guest writers) who write with heart, style, flair and pull no punches. These writers know their stuff.

After our first (very successful) year, a lot of people have asked me where we intend to take the site. After all, no one ever stays where they are, right? There's always another hill to climb, another high score to beat. Since we cover so much of the Off-Off-Broadway scene people think the natural path is to move on to Off-Broadway, then Broadway.

First of all, we do cover Off-Broadway occasionally
and I've had the opportunity to review some Broadway shows as well. I'm grateful, but really . . . it's not all it's cracked up to be. If I want to continue the initial goal of THM then covering and re-covering the same small group of shows on Broadway that everyone else is covering doesn't seem that appealing to me. I mean, face it does the world need another reporting of what happened at the Spider Man musical last night?

So our second year at THM is all about making a reality of what I like to call Operation: Off The Grid
as in off the grid of Manhattan. Yes, it's scary. But hear me out: I had the opportunity to review a show in New Jersey last October, and it blew me away. Now come on I'm not naive. I don't believe that the only talent you'll find is in NYC. But I just didn't expect a small theatre in New Jersey to be so lush, layered, and fantastic.

Since I believe my calling is to amplify the audience's experience, I wanted to tell the world! AND I wanted to see what else is out there. Theatres in Maine, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Chicago, Massachusetts, Cleveland! So we're taking THM on the road. Just like Man vs. Food seeks out those amazing gastronomical gems hidden away in every city, we want to find those small regional theaters that are blowing away their local audiences season after season
and make a connection with them.

Our goal is to eventually have a network of theatres all across America that are being reviewed by local reviewers and are checking in with us. A national chain of Happiest Mediums!  

Honestly, if you would have asked me in 2009 what I would have seen just one year later for THM, I never would have imagined we'd have come as far as we did in the first year. So now, I don't put limits on what to expect. The bigger your dream, the more likely you are to succeed, because honestly,  when you're dreaming up something HUGE for which there is no blueprint yet, there is no wrong way to get there. So gas up the car, set the GPS to the next playhouse, and save two seats on the aisle for me.

THE HAPPIEST MEDIUM’s mission is to highlight, showcase and celebrate talent and creativity in all its forms and to write about it in a way that will ignite a spark for you too. THE HAPPIEST MEDIUM is a continuing media sponsor of The Planet Connections Festivities, and this year sponsored the FRIGID NEW YORK 2011 Festival. If you are a theater enthusiast and love the controversial and edgy off-Broadway productions, stop by to see what’s currently playing and what’s a must-see.


  1. Karen, what a great idea of creating a network of theatres to review across the country. The Happiest Mediums of the World, unite!!! Thank you for blogging with us!

  2. Karen, your theater is a fascinating, innovative idea. Thanks for sharing your work with us today.

  3. Karen, what an inspiration post! I especially loved this:

    "The bigger your dream, the more likely you are to succeed, because honestly, when you're dreaming up something HUGE for which there is no blueprint yet, there is no wrong way to get there."

    Good on you for going out there and making something as amazing as this happen. Imagine where you'll be in another year! Wow!

  4. Great post! I hope you will share more with us. Thank you!

  5. There should be more initiatives like this one. Nice post... Thanks!

  6. keep posting like this it’s really very good idea, you are awesome!

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