For an art form that’s been pronounced dead more often than Bin Laden and indie rock combined, theater is stubbornly abundant, cropping up everywhere in this town, at all hours, at all price points, in all seasons and boroughs. With that in mind, New York Magazine and its entertainment site, Vulture, have deeded me Stage Dive, a brand-new daily (yes, daily!) column designed not only to cover plays and musicals in reviews and in the news, on Broadway and beyond, but also to spark lively conversation with you. Our intention, my intention, is to build a bonfire, not tend some slender, sacred flame.
To be clear: I am New York Magazine’s theater critic. I am not a reporter, though I will respond to news, and I am not an “appreciator,” so my slant, on many occasions, will be critical. That can sometimes translate into slobbering puppy love for the best of what I see, like Laurie Metcalf’s slow-motion implosion in last year’s revival of A Lie of the Mind; Sam Gold’s patient, perfect production of Circle Mirror Transformation (by the auspicious new dramatist Annie Baker); the marvelously plainspoken Bekah Brunstetter’s rough-and-tumble Oo-rah!; Young Jean Lee’s cubist, inverse Lear at Soho Rep; and Simon Russell Beale doing anything. Or it can explode into full-blown bile: I loathed American Idiot with a passion that approaches jihad. The point is, I’m not dead inside. I still get butterflies. (Though check back with me after the King Kong musical hits town in 2013.)
For anyone interested in my credentials, here’s a quick Playbill bio: I’ve been contributing theater reviews to New York Magazine on and off for just under two years. Prior to that, I was a columnist and feature writer for Wired magazine, a writer and critic for Entertainment Weekly for the better part of a decade, and the co-author (with Anthony King) of the Off Broadway comedy Gutenberg! The Musical!. Film/TV: Law & Order (viewer).
And now let the confabulation begin. Please bring all of your own passion and bile to Stage Dive. It’s a cyber cliché at this point (as is the prefix “cyber”), but here it is again on a commemorative key chain: This is intended as a conversation. I want to hear from you. Even when I don’t want to hear from you, I want to hear from you. So if there’s something I’m missing — an off-the-grid play, an under-revered performance, my sanity — please make vigorous use of the comments, or contact me via Facebook or Twitter. Theater, in all its richness and danger and strangeness, is out there in the dark. Let’s bring it back alive!