Mittelman was quoted in a local actors' trade paper saying that Miami actors are not serious. This is interesting, since he has never been seen at any local production or the workshops presented by the Professional Actors Association. His sweeping generalizations show his contempt for the very people from whom he accepts tax money.

I do not and will not attend any production of the Playhouse as long as his "attitude" exists there.

Ellen Wacher

Talk about yellow journalism! (I'll keep this short and sensational, a la New Times.) As a former Coconut Grove Playhouse "staffer" who worked closely with members of the "executive clique," I was very interested in getting past the front-page, neon incentives and on to the "expose"-style (lynching) article. When even your investigatory article could not justify a single accusation and off-color remark in their obviously slanted and desperate search to do so, how dare New Times allow this cover "story" to run with none of the bold-print, out-of-context eye-catchers substantiated in the body of the article. The fact is there was no story. But that doesn't matter with this writing style. I know, you're miffed. You're miffed about something. But guys, you just weren't ready to write this article, so you substituted journalism for bold-print hooks and weak innuendo.

Is it that Mr. Mittelman's plays are commercial? Well, you blew that line when you started off by saying that the audience walked out on the historical Waiting for Godot performance. It can't be that you're miffed about his wife, Judith Delgado, being occasionally cast, because anyone in this town who has had the fortune of catching one of her performances knows that she graces the stage, delivering some of the theater's most elevated quality performances. And what is this "Cadillacs"? Mr. Mittelman drives his rather ordinary Cadillac to work every day. You've really got a problem with that? You justify Maestro Michael Tilson Thomas's (well-earned and deserved) salary, which doubles Arnold Mittelman's, because Thomas is often the principal conductor, yet you can't stomach Mittelman's - who often directs the plays.

Your article really sounds like sour grapes. The stuff Ayn Rand feared (that intimidated midgets will bring down the giants). Now, I'm not trying to immortalize the Playhouse executives, but just tell it like it is. In all the time I worked at the Playhouse, I found the four executives you are targeting to be, if anything, workaholics - without the time to be cliquey or spendthrift. In particular, Ms. Delgado, who has created the excellent and multileveled education program from her devotion to quality, is awe-inspiring.

The "Backstage Drama" issue of New Times is worth exactly what it cost: nothing! But sadly, Sean Rowe and Steven Almond well know that the power of the media is beyond a dollar figure, regardless of its validity.

Regina Keane

Sean Rowe and Steven Almond's story "Backstage Drama" was most interesting, but I noted one error: opening night of Waiting for Godot. Joan Fontaine, Joseph Cotton, and Walter Winchell were there, not Brando and Gypsy. I know because I was there.

J.S. Ellrod
North Miami

I am writing in response to the article written by Kirk Semple, "Deep Trouble" (February 26). Although I feel very badly for Mr. Allen's loss, I can't help but defend someone named in this article. I was a (National Association of Scuba Diving Schools) diving student of Don Stelzen's (Figuerola's refresher instructor), and he maintained the strictest of standards in his instruction.

He demanded the highest from his students, and if someone didn't meet his requirements for safe diving, that person would be out of his class faster than a ten-pound lead weight hitting the bottom of a three-foot pool.

Our class started with about approximately 30 students, and only about ten became certified divers. I also have experienced other dive instructors and schools, and their quality of instruction and standards are significantly poor in comparison to the NASDS and Don Stelzen.

Why, every time something bad happens, should it always be someone else's fault? Both Mr. Allen and Ms. Figuerola broke many diving rules. Why should their instructors suffer for what they did wrong? If Mr. Allen and Ms. Figuerola had followed the safe-diving rules, Ms. Figuerola would be alive today.

Etni Prieto

Why has Tom Austin been appearing recently in a disheveled, rather than his more traditional "sartorial psychotic," state? Specifically, why does his fly appear to be open? He's waiting for a chance to say something clever! Of course he is familiar with the following story:

"Dr. Johnson," the woman at the concert said, "your fly is open and your penis is sticking out."

"You flatter yourself, madam," Dr. Johnson replied. "My penis is hanging out."

Tom Austin has been waiting his whole life to make a clever remark. Now that he has a venue in print, after boring both of his friends ad nauseum for decades, it only remains to thank his editor for allowing this pathetic lump to try his witless art again and again. It can't be long now.

Frances Schneck
North Miami


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