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          Front Page


Thursday, February 27, 2003

Arts Critic Ann Ryan Loved Theater

By Paul Logan
Journal Staff Writer
    Ann Ryan's love of literature, plays and writing was a natural progression to becoming a newspaper arts critic.
    Ryan, who reviewed hundreds of plays for the Albuquerque Journal, was found dead Monday in her home. The cause of death has not been determined. Ryan was 44.
    Ann Lawrence Ryan cared about city theater more than any critic in the past 30 years, said David Richard Jones, a University of New Mexico professor who taught her.
    "She cared about it in a sense that she came from the theater community," Jones said.
    Journal arts editor Rene Kimball said the newspaper would miss Ryan's intelligence and wit.
    "Ann loved the theater and the local theater community," Kimball said. "She knew her stuff, and she tended to save her barbs for theater folks she knew from experience could do better. She overlooked a lot in those she sensed were doing the best they could."
    Ryan was regarded as the consummate professional, said "Raving Richard" Spray, a radio reviewer for JOY-AM.
    "She had a colorful way of expressing her thoughts that not only captured the readers' interest, but zeroed in on the essence of a performance so that little else needed to be added," Spray said. "She will be missed beyond measure."
    Ryan learned about acting as a Corrales youth at the Adobe Theater, said her brother, Richard Ryan of Los Angeles.
    "My earliest memories of her was her sitting, reading a book," he said. "When she was very young she became very interested in Shakespeare and that got her very interested in plays."
    Ryan was active in West Mesa High School's drama department and then at Albuquerque Academy. At one time, she dreamed of becoming a professional actress, he said.
    She studied English at UNM and became a playwright. Her plays included "Domestic Discord" and "Near the River."
    In the mid-1980s, Ryan earned a master of fine arts degree at Louisiana State University, where she received the Tony Bill Screenwriting Award and the Lewis P. Simpson MFA Thesis Award.
    Ryan also was "very proud" to receive the 2001 Bravos Award in theater excellence from the Arts Alliance of Albuquerque, her brother said.
    Jones said Ryan was extraordinarily supportive of the theater community, which isn't always true of critics.
    Oftentimes, reviewers hope to move on to bigger cities, but Ryan returned to Albuquerque after LSU, he said.
    "She came back here on purpose to work," Jones said. "She felt as if she was a part of the community and so did the arts community."
    Ryan's last review on Friday was "A Life in the Theatre," which Jones directed. In it, she wrote about the two featured actors in a supportive way, he said.
    "She would be encouraging because she knew they were going to be here over time and were going to develop," Jones said. "Much of the encouragement she gave people was tinged with her membership in the community."
    Ryan's review also included touches about her background, referring to the play as "especially sweet for those of us who have been on both sides of the curtain."
    A service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John, 318 Silver SW.
    Ryan was the daughter of former state District Court Judge Joseph Ryan, who died in 1985. Her mother, Barbara Ryan, died in 1966 and her stepmother, Jean Ryan, died in 1998.
    Other survivors include a stepsister, Karen Parrish of Corrales, and Ryan's longtime partner, Roger Marston of Albuquerque.