Clive Barnes, Legendary NY Theatre Critic, Passes Away at 81

Clive Barnes, Legendary NY Theatre Critic, Passes Away at 81Clive Barnes, drama critic, dance lover and a true legend of the New York theatrical landscape passed away after a battle with liver cancer November 19th BroadwayWorld has learned.

He always seemed to be there at whatever new show was opening, whatever "must see" was playing, he'd take in the crowd, then focus on the show, his gray hair and affable smile a beacon in the crowd, he was, truly a "man of the theatre". Oxford schooled, he brought that intellect, along with a crisp passion to his many reviews, for the last number of years as the chief Dance, Drama and Opera critic for the New York Post. He was still reviewing productions up until only a few weeks ago, although you always felt him there as you held the Post in your hands, his voice had become so matched with the daily tabloid.

From the years of 1965 to 1977 he was the dance and or theater critic for the New York Times, he gained both positions by first replacing Walter Kerr as the Times' chief drama critic. But while embracing that new title, he never gave up writing about his beloved 'dance', he held the spot of drama critic there until his exit in 1977. 

He joined The New York Post in 1978 and stayed there up until his last column, which was a rave review of the current Mamet play Speed-The-Plow. You can read that final article by clicking here.

He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 1975, and appointed a knight of the Order of the Dannebrog in 1972 by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. These titles were a testament to his wide range as storied member of the world at large, but he always seemed most at home in an aisle seat as the house lights dimmed.

A long time and very vocal advocate of the world of dance he was a Dance Magazine consulting editor. He wrote a monthly column for the magazine titled, "Attitudes".

He also continued to edit and write for British newspapers such as The Times and the Daily Express, and the weekly Spectator magazine.

Barnes was an author of numerous books related to theater and the performing arts, particularly, but not surprisingly, dance. These include four volumes of 50 Best Plays of the American Theatre, nine series of Best American Plays (with John Gassner), American Ballet Theatre: A 25 Year Retrospective (with Elizabeth Kaye), Masters of Movement: Portraits of America's Great Choreographers (with Rose Eichenbaum), Ballet in Britain Since the War, Frederick Ashton and his Ballets, New York Times Directory of the Theater, Ballet Here and Now, Dance Scene USA, Inside American Ballet Theatre, as well as biographies of Tennessee Williams and Rudolf Nureyev.

In memory of their friend and colleague Clive Barnes, Theatre Talk has announced it will be airing an interview with Mr. Barnes from 2005 in which he discusses his remarkable career writing about the world of the arts to which he was so devoted. This special episode airs on CUNY TV on Saturday, November 22 at 8:30 PM; Sunday, November 23 at 12:30 PM; and Monday, November 24 7:30 AM, 1:30 PM, and 7:30 PM.

Photo Credit: Mark Rupp


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