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Ben Brantley Steps Down

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JBroadway
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Ben Brantley Steps Down#1
Posted: 9/10/20 at 10:22am

https://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Ben-Brantley-Will-Step-Down-From-Position-as-Chief-Theater-Critic-For-The-New-York-Times-20200910

 

I know for many people here this will feel like a relief. And in some ways, I agree it's probably for the best. Brantley seemed to be getting more and more out of touch, and I think a passing of the torch was overdue. And I expect the NYT will likely take this as an opportunity to hire someone from an underrepresented demographic, which is sorely needed in the world of theatre criticism.

But I'll also say: I've always enjoyed Brantley's writing, and respected his opinion even when I disagreed with it. Thanks for a good run, Ben! 

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Wick3
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Ben Brantley Steps Down#2
Posted: 9/10/20 at 10:25am
I really do think it’s about time for NYT to hire a female as one of its chief theater critics.
I wish Brantley the best on the next chapter of his life. Is he retiring?
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bwayphreak234
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Ben Brantley Steps Down#3
Posted: 9/10/20 at 10:30am
This is long overdue. I'm glad Jesse Green is staying on, though. I'm looking forward to seeing who they bring in.
"There’s nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music. "
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Ben Brantley Steps Down#4
Posted: 9/10/20 at 10:34am

I know she wants to focus on her directing career, but I hope someone is giving Sara Holden a call.

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ggersten
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Ben Brantley Steps Down#5
Posted: 9/10/20 at 10:48am
“And I say Melanie Griffith is the best Roxie Hart...EVER!”
LarryD2
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Ben Brantley Steps Down#6
Posted: 9/10/20 at 10:55am

My guess is the next critic will be a woman of color, like Soraya McDonald, who was a finalist for this year's Pulitzer in criticism, or Maya Phillips, the current critical fellow at the times. The Times got a fair amount of criticism for hiring Green and given the current climate I don't foresee them hiring someone who is essentially the same demographic. Whomever is hired, I hope it is a fresh choice. The Times' theater coverage needs a new perspective.

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Ben Brantley Steps Down#7
Posted: 9/10/20 at 10:59am

Ben Brantley Steps Down

============> this board is a nest of vipers <============

"Michael Riedel...The Perez Hilton of the New York Theatre scene"
- Craig Hepworth, What's On Stage
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Ben Brantley Steps Down#8
Posted: 9/10/20 at 11:46am

Thank you Ben for nearly 30 years of wide theatrical insight. Your eloquence and word choice in every one of your reviews could not be beat. Even your downright pans made for interesting reads.

The current times call for a change, though, and I too noticed he was losing his touch a little pre-virus. I hope he serves as a model for future theatre critics when they read his reviews.

Updated On: 9/10/20 at 11:46 AM
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Ben Brantley Steps Down#9
Posted: 9/10/20 at 1:51pm

Ben Brantley Steps Down

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rattleNwoolypenguin
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Ben Brantley Steps Down#10
Posted: 9/10/20 at 2:08pm

Ya know that reprise of "Bye Bye Birdie" at the end of the film where Ann-Margret is proudly walking that treadmill and mockingly singing "I'll tryyyyyyy Birrrdie to go on somehow!" 

 

That's the vibe of this for me.

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Ben Brantley Steps Down#11
Posted: 9/10/20 at 2:09pm
Updated On: 9/10/20 at 02:09 PM
Owen22
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Ben Brantley Steps Down#12
Posted: 9/10/20 at 2:59pm

I have disagreed with Brantley many times (beginning with giving Side Show a good review and then a bad review to Triumph of Love) but have never argued with his love of theatre and his ability to write.  I will miss him very much.

As for Jesse Green...he's a pretty good writer...

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Ben Brantley Steps Down#13
Posted: 9/10/20 at 4:41pm

Looks like Tom Stoppard will have to find a new servant in the NYC press.

"If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers." Thomas Pynchon, GRAVITY'S RAINBOW "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." Philip K. Dick My blog: http://www.roscoewrites.blogspot.com/
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Ben Brantley Steps Down#14
Posted: 9/10/20 at 4:50pm

Roscoe said: "Looks like Tom Stoppard will have to find a new servant in the NYC press."

Stoppard was a critic's darling LONG before Brantley...

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Ben Brantley Steps Down#15
Posted: 9/10/20 at 5:09pm

Owen22 said: "I have disagreed with Brantley many times (beginning with giving Side Show a good review and then a bad review to Triumph of Love) but have never argued with his love of theatre and his ability to write. I will miss him very much.

As for Jesse Green...he's a pretty good writer...
"

Couldn't agree more with you, Owen. Brantley always gave the best raves, which showed how much he loved theater in general, and the worst (or best?) pans, which were very often quite entertaining (I will always remember his reviews of King Kong and Something Rotten). He was always very eloquent and pinpointed exactly what he liked and disliked about each show - which is precisely what a good critic should do. You could read a bad review written by him and infer you would like the show because of how he described - or the opposite, read a good review and think you might hate the play, because of how detailed the reviews were. Not every critic can do that, unfortunately. Congrats to him, I have deeply enjoyed his texts for years and will sorely miss them.

I will also echo the Times should add more diversity to their team to reflect the opinion of more groups of people. 

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Ben Brantley Steps Down#16
Posted: 9/11/20 at 12:56am

He always seemed to echo my sentiments and it was uncanny how we saw things the same way. Good luck Ben. You will be missed.

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Ben Brantley Steps Down#17
Posted: 9/11/20 at 10:24am
Even though he doesn’t work for NYT anymore, do you think he has enough of a following or influence where if he continues to review shows on his own and post them on his own website or blog or something, people would read it?
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Ben Brantley Steps Down#18
Posted: 9/11/20 at 10:51am

Wick3 said: "Even though he doesn’t work for NYT anymore, do you think he has enough of a following or influence where if he continues to review shows on his own and post them on his own website or blog or something, people would read it?"

 

In theory, anyone who truly cared about his opinion before should continue to care about it now. His artistic standards and insight weren't tied to the job title, they're things he gained through experience - experience he still possesses. 

If he were to continue writing reviews, they inevitably wouldn't be as popular simply because he wouldn't have the built-in readership that the NYT has. And normal people wouldn't care enough about him to seek out his independent reviews. But I would hope that any theatre people who really valued his opinion before wouldn't be so shallow as to consider his criticism worthless just because he doesn't hold the same high position. 

Having said that, I'm guessing that many theatre people who eagerly anticipated reading his verdict weren't doing so because they valued his personal insight, but rather because they knew that his reviews had the most influence and power to sell tickets (compared to other reviewers). Without the NYT job, he no longer has that power. So I suspect most theatre people won't care what he has to say, unless they have a particular affinity for his personal writing style, or found that his personal opinions have historically aligned with their own.  

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Ben Brantley Steps Down#19
Posted: 9/11/20 at 12:19pm
Charles Isherwood must be kicking himself. He only had to hold on 3 more years and the plum job would have been his!
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Ben Brantley Steps Down#20
Posted: 9/11/20 at 1:57pm

Surprising news.

I wonder if he left under his own accord? He could have just picked up his pay checks for another 6 months, before theatre, is likely to start again in March. So the timing of his departure makes no sense?

However the position isn’t what it was and wasn’t a sure fire ticket seller for a rave like Frank Rich, we saw this with the early demise of Bright Star and Groundhog Day despite both being raves.

It is also worth noting that the position is /was the power not the person, when Clive Barnes left for the New York Post his reviews didn’t hold the weight they did with the Times, despite the same faculties at the show.

I wish Ben well and have enjoyed reading his reviews over the years, a person who had a genuine love for the genre.

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Ben Brantley Steps Down#21
Posted: 9/11/20 at 2:09pm

I think it makes perfect sense, there is nothing for him to write about until next Spring or Summer and he's of retirement age. 

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Ben Brantley Steps Down#22
Posted: 9/11/20 at 2:10pm

People have good reason to make fun of Brantley for proclaiming Melanie Griffith as the best Roxie Hart ever. I'm sure her singing and dancing was as bad as all the reports I've read. But there's this reel of a bunch of actresses doing the Roxie monologue on YouTube, and I have to say...Griffith gave by far the best line reading in that particular moment. She was also the most winning and charming of all the Roxies. Lisa Rhinna was really bad and screamed her lines.

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Ben Brantley Steps Down#23
Posted: 9/11/20 at 2:34pm

Phantom of London said: "Surprising news.

I wonder if he left under his own accord? He could have just picked up his pay checks for another 6 months, before theatre, is likely to start again in March. So the timing of his departure makes no sense?

However the position isn’t what it was and wasn’t a sure fire ticket seller for a rave like Frank Rich, we saw this with the early demise of Bright Star and Groundhog Day despite both being raves.

It is also worth noting that the position is /was the powernot the person, when Clive Barnes left for the New York Post his reviews didn’t hold the weight they did with the Times, despite the same faculties at the show.

I wish Ben well and have enjoyed reading his reviews over the years, a person who had a genuine love forthe genre.
"

There is no way he left of his own accord. In this economy?!?! It’s much more likely that his services are no longer needed due to the lack of actual theatre. 

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Ben Brantley Steps Down#24
Posted: 9/11/20 at 4:08pm

Or maybe he just decided he wanted to retire. He has been with the Times for 24 years. He is 65 years old. He is probably set for the rest of his life.

Just give the world Love.
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Ben Brantley Steps Down#25
Posted: 9/11/20 at 4:15pm
I’m guessing next time he goes to the theatre he’ll have to pay for a ticket versus getting a media comp from the producers.