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Variety legit critic Markland Taylor dies

Known for his high standards, vet covered New England area

Markland Taylor, Variety‘s theater critic and reporter covering New England, died of a heart attack at his Southbury, Conn., home on Sunday. He was 67.

Taylor had been writing reviews and news stories for the paper for more than 25 years. His assiduous coverage of the New England theater scene — from pre-Broadway tryouts in New Haven and Boston to the many regional theaters and summer festivals in the area — formed an invaluable part of the paper’s legit coverage.

An exacting critic with wide-ranging knowledge of theater, Taylor was known for his high standards. Producers of New York-bound shows trying out in New England occasionally complained or sought to elude his appraisal, but his stern judgments — or praise — usually were borne out by the reception of Gotham critics.

Taylor was born in Adelaide, South Australia, on Jan. 29, 1936. After graduating from college, he worked for the Adelaide Advertiser, and then moved to Melbourne to become the paper’s drama critic.

Taylor spent a year in London as associate editor of Plays & Players, and moved to New York in the early 1960s, to study criticism under Judith Crist at Columbia U. Crist was then the drama critic for the New York Herald Tribune, and she assigned Taylor second-string reviews for the paper.

Taylor later worked in publicity. He was head of publicity at the William Morris Agency in New York and also worked in PR for Shell Oil.

Returning to writing, Taylor became the theater critic and classical recordings critic for the New Haven Register. While working at the Register, Taylor began filing reviews for Variety at the behest of the paper’s legit editor of many years, Hobe Morrison.

He wrote regularly for Variety — during the busy summer stock season, filing as many as three reviews a week — from 1985 until his death. His last reviews will appear in the weekly Variety to be published July 13.

Taylor is survived by his companion of many years, Hartney Arthur, a former theater producer and agent. He also is survived by a brother in Australia. There will be no services.

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