Proving there are second, and even third, acts in theater reviewing, ex-New York Times and Variety critic Charles Isherwood will return to his aisle seat in time for Broadway’s pre-Tony April madness. Beginning with this Sunday’s opening of British import The Play That Goes Wrong, Isherwood will be writing for Broadway News, a new online venture from Broadway Briefing, an aggregator of theater news.
Isherwood will be joined in reviewing by Elizabeth Bradley, an arts academic at New York University and former producer, manager and administrator with long ties to Canada’s Stratford Festival and the Sony Centre in Toronto, among others. The new site will launch next week.
“We are always eager for Broadway to have visible platforms for informed and educated opinion. The more discussion and analysis the better. Kudos to Broadway Briefing for creating an outlet for two extremely qualified and intelligent critics. Two thumbs up,” Broadway publicists Adrian Bryan-Brown and Chris Boneau told Deadline, responding to news of the appointment.
“We’re starting with April, the busiest month of the year,” Isherwood told Deadline in an interview this morning. “I’ve committed to do a certain number of reviews, concentrating on Broadway for now as the site develops but hoping there will be a chance to expand to off-Broadway.”
Isherwood’s move follows an unexpected shake-up at the Times which began last month, when he was dismissed after 13 years as the number two drama critic behind Ben Brantley, for reasons that remain unclear and which may be the subject of arbitration. (Disclosure: I was the Broadway reporter for The New York Times in the late 1980s and, later as chief critic at Variety, I hired Isherwood as Variety‘s Los Angeles chief theater critic. He is a longtime colleague and friend.)
“Good news about the Broadway Briefing,” producer Margo Lion (Hairspray) told Deadline this morning. “I’m always for more points of view and thoughtful voices.”
Last week, the Times announced that Jesse Green, currently the theater critic at New York magazine, would join the paper beginning May 1 as co-chief critic with Brantley.
Matt Britten is the owner, founder and editor of the Briefing, which has quickly become a widely read tip-sheet for industry pros and fans, linking to stories from Deadline, the Times and other news sources. In January, Britten responded to industry interest by adding weekly analysis of social activity for Broadway shows to Broadway Briefing Pro, a paid subscription version of the free site that was brought out last fall.
“Today most people don’t get their news by going to the homepage of a website, but by seeing it shared on Facebook or other social channels,” Britten told Deadline. “Our coverage will begin with a laser-focus on Broadway and expand as our audience dictates.”
Rick Miramontez, another prominent Broadway publicist, also was upbeat about the announcement. “This is good news for the industry,” he told Deadline, “and we’ll make sure Charles gets his seat locations ‘on the aisle,’ as per usual.”