theater critic, Detroit Free Press
Through memorable plays and wretched ones, his critical pen left an indelible mark on the Michigan theater scene and on the readers of the Detroit Free Press. For more than 30 years, Lawrence DeVine, an expert theater witness with exceptional style and engaging writing ability, told readers what they would see and producers what they had created. DeVine was born in 1935 in New York City and later moved to Michigan where he attended Monroe’s Catholic Central High School. He graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in 1957. After serving four years in the U.S. Army, he began his newspaper career at The Miami Herald as a copy editor and theater critic in 1962. After a brief stay as entertainment editor at the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, DeVine joined the Detroit Free Press in 1968 as theater critic and arts writer. “The good stuff keeps you coming back and also keeps you looking for a new depth of awfulness,” said DeVine, who spent more than 4,000 hours in the dark critiquing performances.
DeVine has received numerous awards for his work, including the Outstanding Professional Achievement Award from the Michigan Allied Professional Theaters, Michigan Governor’s Award, the Amoco Gold Medal of Excellence from the American College Theater Festival and a special proclamation by Detroit Mayor Dennis W. Archer for “stewardship (that) has been profound, embattled, respectful and honest…has brought our city honor and achievement….” In addition, DeVine’s creation of the annual Theater Excellence Awards brought the theater community together at least once a year. This led to much more cooperation among the groups as well as an understanding of their different missions. Other professional activities include: Pulitzer Prize nominating jury for drama; chairman, Executive Committee American Theater Critics Association; and National Critics Institute Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. Upon his retirement, DeVine said, “Evita is coming back to Detroit for the seventh time. Do I have to say more? Enough is enough.”