Ben Brantley Apologizes Over New York Times Review For HEAD OVER HEELS
Late Thursday evening, following the publication of the New York Times theatre review of Head Over Heels, members of the Broadway community took to social media to express outrage over a review which many have dubbed transphobic.
Now Brantley has responded to the outrage, writing "I feel horrible about having offended transgender and nonbinary communities. I was trying to reflect the light tone of the show, as well as a plot point in which one character learns to acknowledge another not as "she" but as "they" - this was meant to be a reference to the character of the Oracle, not Peppermint, the person who plays the role. Thisunfortunately read as more flippant than I would ever have intended, especially with regard to a performance that marks a historical first. I am deeply sorry."
Early in the review, critic Ben Brantley seems to invalidate an entire gender identity, writing "And its dichotomous nature matches the didactic thrust of a show that celebrates the importance of not being (and pardon me, for trotting out what's starting to feel like the decade's most overused word) binary."
Later in the review he purposefully misgenders a non-binary character, played by trans actress Peppermint (the first openly trans woman to play a principal role on Broadway) - writing "Dametas (Tom Alan Robbins), the King's viceroy and father of Mopsa, finds himself strangely drawn to her - I mean them."
In the show, it is explicitly stated early on (and is a major plot point) that the character Brantley is referring to uses the pronouns they/them.
From the visionaries that rocked Broadway with Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Next To Normal, American Idiot, Spring Awakening and Avenue Q, the Head Over Heels creative team is led by director Michael Mayer with musical supervision, orchestrations and arrangements by Tom Kittand choreography by Spencer Liff. Head Over Heels was conceived and has an original book by Jeff Whitty and is adapted by James Magruder. Head Over Heels is based upon The Arcadia by Sir Philip Sidney. The creative team also includes scenic by Julian Crouch, costume design by Arianne Phillips, lighting design by Kevin Adams, sound design by Kai Harada and projection design by Andrew Lazarow. Casting by Jim Carnahan Casting. Kimberly Grigsby serves as Musical Director. Lisa Iacucci is Production Stage Manager.
In the kingdom of Arcadia, the "beat" is divine. But when an oracle's prophecy of doom threatens its beloved beat, it propels the king and his royal family through a journey of mistaken identities, jealous lovers, secret rendezvouses and sexual awakening - where everything (and everyone) is not what it seems.
Head Over Heels features 18 of The Go-Go's iconic hit songs including "We Got the Beat," "Get Up and Go," "Cool Jerk," "Vacation," "Our Lips Are Sealed," "Lust to Love," "Head Over Heels" and Belinda Carlisle's solo hits "Mad About You" and "Heaven is a Place on Earth."