BY: PHEOBE HORIBE
Award-winning theater critic, Ben Brantley, has decided to step down from his position of chief theater critic at The New York Times after 24 years. Brantley began working at The Times in 1993 as a drama critic, but became a chief theater critic just three years later. He is the longest-running drama critic at The New York Times since Brooks Atkinson — who was a drama critic from the 1920s into the 1960s — and the recipient of the the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism, which he nabbed during his first year as chief critic for the lauded paper.
“This pandemic pause in the great, energizing party that is the theater seemed to me like a good moment to slip out the door,” Brantley said in a statement. “But when the theater returns, I hope to be there—as a writer, an audience member and, above all, the stark raving fan I have been since I was a child.”
While Broadway actors and creatives have mixed feelings about reading reviews of their own work, there is no question that many avid would-be theatergoers used Brantley’s reviews as a barometer when deciding what shows to see (or not). And though Brantley’s feelings weren’t always shared by the rest of the world (he famously panned Wicked with a review entitled, “There’s Trouble in Emerald City”), his overall body of work is revered by many he leaves an impactful legacy.
Brantley will officially step down on Oct. 15, but rest assured, even after retirement, his work will continue to be seen in The Times. In the meantime, The New York Times will take their time in selecting who they will bring on to take over Brantley’s role.
(Just a side note, NYT, I am available!)