Ben Brantley called J.T. Rogers’ drama about the 1993 accord between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization “crackling theater” when he reviewed it over the summer. Since transferring from Lincoln Center Theater’s Mitzi Newhouse to the Vivian Beaumont, it sold a healthy $297,000 in its first four previews, buoyed by LCT members with access to discounted tickets.
In an unusual reversal caused by the departure of its No. 2 theater critic, the New York Times relinquished its support of Significant Other once it arrived on Broadway.
What Charles Isherwood deemed “an entirely delightful new play” in his 2015 review off Broadway at the Roundabout, Ben Brantley found to be a “bubbly, teary comedy” that is reminiscent of Wendy Wasserstein but “talks too much and too explicitly” and might be more satisfying 20 minutes shorter. The review, which appears on page C3 in the paper rather than the section front, isn’t cited as a “critics’ pick.”
EXCLUSIVE: With a search underway to fill one of the highest-profile jobs in theater criticism, influential playwrights are pressing for diversity.
They’re among more than 800 in and outside of theater who signed a petition requesting the New York Times hire either a woman of color or a transgender person of color to replace Charles Isherwood, the second-string reviewer who was fired earlier this month. “For as long as I’ve been reading the Times, it’s been white men,” Winter Miller, the playwright who started the petition, said about its full-time theater reviewers. “Trump’s cabinet has more diversity.”
UPDATED THROUGHOUT: The New York Times is seeking a full-time theater critic to replace Charles Isherwood.
Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy confirmed Isherwood’s departure as the No. 2 theater critic, but said the paper doesn’t discuss personnel matters. Isherwood joined the Times from Variety in 2004. He declined to comment.
The position has been one of the most influential in theater journalism. Its current minimum salary is $2,075 a week, said Grant Glickson, the president of the NewsGuild of New York and a staff assistant and head of the bargaining unit at the Times. That’s just above the Broadway performer minimum of $1,974, according to Actors’ Equity.
Tony Award contenders often say it’s an honor to be nominated. For Bright Star, like any struggling nominee, it’s an expensive honor.
Instead of potentially folding after ten slow weeks, Joey Parnes, the lead producer of the original Steve Martin and Edie Brickell musical, is betting on the marketing muscle of its five nominations. The production will borrow money to run at least through the Tonys on June 12, he said, as well as to advertise the nominations and stage a number on the CBS telecast. The last expense typically runs in the six figures.
“It’s not a secret that we’ve been having less-than-robust grosses,” Parnes said earlier in the week. “To say we’re an underdog is an understatement.”