Theater Critics Strike Back, Online

Variety, March 20, 2018 | Go to article overview

Theater Critics Strike Back, Online


There's a new place for New York theater reviews.

Those aren't words you expect to hear these days, not as traditional media outlets scale back their theater coverage and more and more critics lose their full-time posts. But now a group of longtime reviewers - all veterans of city papers - has banded together to create New York Stage Review, a website that's pushing back against criticism's demise.

Launching March 20, just in time to catch the spring wave of big Broadway openings that began last week with "Escape to Margaritaville" and continues this week with "Frozen" and "Angels in America," New York Stage Review comes online with some 20 pieces of criticism about recent openings. Reviews of new shows will post as opening-night curtains come down - the same time reviews post at traditional media outlets.

"We want to keep our voice, and we feel that we need to keep encouraging good, interesting theater," said Steven Suskin, the critic and musical theater historian ("Second Act Trouble," "The Sound of Broadway Music"), who's written reviews for Variety and HuffPost.

New York Stage Review is the brainchild of Suskin and Jesse Oxfeld, former theater critic at The New York Observer, who had the digital publishing experience (at companies like Vox and Tablet Magazine) to oversee development of the site. "We really wanted it to be a well-designed, professional, serious site that takes a group of people who are professional writers and critics and stands out from amateur or enthusiast sites," Oxfeld said. There's no funding for the venture - at least not yet. The critics on board the project are ponying up for the site's development costs (in the low four figures) with the intent of figuring out a financial model once it's up and running. …

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