Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Jack Zink, Theatre Critic, Dies at 61

I received this today from Chris Rawson of the American Theatre Critics Association. It was reported on back in August but I thought the recollections were especially poignant.

Jack Zink, the long-time South Florida critic, died in August of cancer, just 61. He had most recently been drama critic and cultural affairs writer for the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, continuing active almost to the very end.

Jack’s great institutional service to ATCA was as president of our Foundation, which he did more than anyone to revive and set on the path to financial strength. But he is most greatly mourned as a lively intelligence and good friend, genial and courtly, always supportive of his colleagues, even those who might be slow to grasp what he could see right away.

Betsy Maupin, Jack’s friendly competitor at the Orlando Sentinel, wrote in part:

“Jack was a gentleman and a gentle man. . . . He worked harder than anybody -- writing at various times about movies, popular music, clubs and opera and spending his last years as both theater and classical music critic for the Sun Sentinel. He founded South Florida's Carbonell Awards, the classy and prestigious awards program for professional theater. He volunteered his time in innumerable ways -- as president of the Foundation of the American Theatre Critics Association, as senior warden of his Episcopal church. And he turned out copy like crazy.

“Jack was a tall, skinny, soft-spoken man with a gleam in his eye. He was always kind, always upbeat and always encouraging to a colleague. Like me, he was an Ohioan. . . . I last saw him in May in New York, along with Christine Dolen, another Ohioan and the theater critic for the Miami Herald. He was not well at all, but he was just as gracious and interested in everything around him as he always had been.

“We Ohioans will miss him, and so will all the theater lovers who were accustomed for so long to depending on his words.”

In her Miami Herald blog, Christine said of Jack’s final days, “he remained optimistic, because that's who he was -- a critic, yes, but one who was never happier than when he could celebrate a great production, an amazing performance, music beautifully played. . . . Everyone who has been a part of South Florida theater for any length of time has a Jack story. They would tell you about his dedication, his vision, his attention to detail, his devotion to his job and the Carbonells and his wife, Cynthia.”

Jack had introduced Christine to the man she married, Sun Sentinel arts editor John Dolen, who wrote his obituary, which said, in part:

“Mr. Zink handled a variety of Carbonell duties, including stage direction for the annual awards show. He could often be found racing around behind the scenes until curtain time, when he had to don his tuxedo....

"‘Of course bad performances and shows certainly felt his wrath in print. But even then, you often could sense Jack's reluctance to lambaste too harshly, preferring instead to try to find the good kernel in even a mediocre show,’ said Paulette Everett, editor of Showtime, the weekly Sun Sentinel entertainment section.

“Mr. Zink wrote investigative articles as well, including a series in the early 1990s about operations at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts that prompted the Florida Legislature to overhaul the center's management. . . .

“Born in 1947 in Lorain, Ohio, Mr. Zink graduated from Ohio State University. He joined TheMiami Herald as Broward lively arts editor from 1969-1971, and then became amusement editor at the Fort Lauderdale News, which later merged with the Sun Sentinel. He also spent two years at the Palm Beach Post, 1983-85, before returning to the Sun Sentinel. Mr. Zink received the Sun Sentinel's highest honor, The Fred Pettijohn Award, as well as the Carbonells' George Abbott Award for arts achievement.”

In Playbill, Robert Simonson and Kenneth Jones noted that Jack also wrote steadily for Variety since the late '70s. They quoted former ATCA chair Lawrence DeVine, who said, “Jack was as much a part of the arts scene in that sunny place as the stage boards and the lighted marquees and the out of the way places he would go to nurture some new talent. He was an honest professional and a fine, fine human being."

He is survived by his wife, Cynthia Williamson-Zink; two daughters; two step-children; and five siblings. Memorial donations can be made to St. Ambrose Episcopal Church, 2250 SW 31st Ave., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312, or to the Carbonell Awards, P.O. Box 14211, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33302-4211.

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: