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A bright light of theatre is dimmed

Jay Stanley at his birthday party in 2011.
Jay Stanley at his birthday party in 2011.
Alan Smason

The announcement over the weekend that New Orleans critic and reviewer Jay Stanley had died was handled in a quiet and dignified manner much like the way he lived his life.

While Stanley was not the most visible member of the the Big Easy Theatre Committee, he was a dedicated and constant supporter of the local theatre scene. Even when walking became difficult and he required the assistance of a cane or walker, he was always checking out new shows and new openings.

Even after his departure from this earthly plane, it is hard to refer to him by any other name than "Jay." His disposition was such that he was always friendly and, despite some devastating health problems later in his life, his countenance bore an ever-present smile and welcoming manner.

This past year he removed himself voluntarily from the Big Easy Theatre Committee due to the exigencies of traveling to shows and his inability to see the requisite 50 or more local productions. Ever the gentleman, Stanley would never deem to take more than his own portion or to carry less than his own weight.

Stanley did have partners with whom he shared, but his greatest and most constant love throughout his life was theatre.

He began the Marquee Awards while living and writing as a critic in Los Angeles and continued them when he retired to New Orleans more than a decade ago. The awards show was pieced together with a select committee to shine the light on local productions. While some may have seen them as superfluous (especially when compared to the more opulent and swank Big Easy Awards ceremonies), Stanley nevertheless went about his business, ensuring that both presenters and recipients felt his love and special attention. Most everyone perceived these awards as precious, especially when they considered that Stanley paid for the awards and contracted for the hall out of his own pocket. In comparison to the budget for the Big Easy Awards, the Marquee Awards' was meagre. But that didn't stop Stanley from putting on the best show possible and making sure that the engraved awards he bestowed to local actors, producers, directors and techs were of the highest quality.

Here is an article written for on his 2012 presentation.

Funeral arrangements are still pending, but there is little doubt that the bright lights of the very connected and responsive theatre community in New Orleans have dimmed as a result of the passing of this significant figure. Godspeed and rest in peace, faithful friend.

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