When a major production opened on Broadway, I couldn't wait to read Ben Brantley's review in The New York Times.
I almost felt like I was a character in "All About Eve," devouring the newspaper in Sardi's.
Brantley connected me to the excitement of New York City's theater world. Along with rendering his judgment on well-publicized plays and musicals, Brantley gave attention to emerging playwrights and off-Broadway productions.
With New York's theaters darkened by Covid-19, Brantley left the Times last week after 24 years as its chief drama critic. Co-chief critic Jesse Green remains to write about whatever theater news comes along with the theaters shuttered.
In a farewell interview with Green in Sunday's New York Times, Brantley looked back on his career and his immense power over a production's success and failure. He recalled memorable performances, feuds with famous actors and the magic of the theater.
Despite the rise in touristy jukebox musicals and Hollywood-star vehicles, Brantley noted an increase in artistically ambitious Broadway productions before the pandemic. Brantley's work played a significant role in raising the level of quality.
Brantley in departing expressed hope that a vibrant New York theater will return. His career is a testament to what we've lost.