I spend a lot of time living out of a suitcase in my capacity as drama critic of The Wall Street Journal, for which I review theatrical performances all over America. Cross-country travel can be grueling–especially now–and sometimes I wonder whether my regional reviews have any impact. The Kansas City Star published a story the other day that inspired me to stick to my last:
Kansas City Repertory Theatre received an early Christmas gift when Terry Teachout, drama critic for the Wall Street Journal, named the Rep’s production of “The Glass Menagerie” as one of the two best shows in the country in 2009.
The production, which opened at Copaken Stage almost a year ago, was directed by David Cromer and received across-the-board praise from critics and theatergoers. Teachout became the first New York critic to review a show at the Rep when he flew in to catch “Menagerie.”…
Eric Rosen, the Rep’s artistic director, said Teachout’s pick came as a total surprise.
“I had no idea,” Rosen said by telephone last weekend. “I just got off an airplane in California and had 30 e-mails about it. … It’s been an amazing 12 months for the Rep, and it’s a nice way to end the year.”…
The Rep’s board of trustees specifically charged Rosen with elevating the theater company’s national profile when he was hired. Between the transfer to New York of “Clay,” which opened the Rep’s 2008-09 season, the buzz surrounding the world premiere of “A Christmas Story, the Musical!” and Teachout’s laudatory words, nobody can say Rosen hasn’t delivered.
“I thought if we were lucky we’d be at this point three or four years from now,” he said. “I think it speaks well of our institution and our audience and the potential of the city that we’ve put the Rep on the map in a way. And it’s not just because I showed up.”…
As he put together the 2008-09 season, his first at the Rep, he said he had to do a bit of arm-twisting to get certain directors and designers to work in Kansas City.
“Now we’re getting calls from directors and agents wanting to develop work with us,” he said. “That was not true last year.”
It goes without saying that I have to write my share of bad reviews, but I live to see good shows and spread the word about them. That piece made me very, very proud.
To read the full story, go here.
To read my original Wall Street Journal review of the Kansas City Rep’s production of The Glass Menagerie, go here.