Discovering Our World, One Fantastic Person at a Time
Occupation: Chief Theater Critic, The Village Voice
Photo: Stephen Paley
1.) Almost every actor I know claims to dislike critics. Why do you think that is?
Michael: Everybody hates critics, except when they get a good review. Give the baby its bottle and it stops crying for a while.
2.) When did you first realize you were good at critiquing theater?
Michael: I don't actually think I'm very good at it. But the people who've been paying me to do it for 35 years apparently disagree. So you might say my success as a critic is based on my awareness that my own opinion might not be definitive.
3.) How has New York theater changed since you first started writing for the Voice?
Michael: When I started, it was like the 1930s with the gentility removed. Now it's like 1900 with profanity and amplifiers added.
4.) You’re friends with many playwrights and actors. How do you handle running into them after you’ve written a poor write-up for their show?
Michael: I just tell the same truth in print as in person, always trying not to be rude about it. The ones who resent my telling them the truth don't usually stay friends, but people like that aren't the kind of friends you need anyway.
5.) Have you ever seriously regretted a review, either because of what you wrote or the way you wrote it?
Michael: I regret at least one sentence in every review I ever wrote. But once it's published, it's too late to fix it. They say Matisse was once thrown out of an art gallery in Nice for trying to retouch one of his old paintings.
Critical Bonus Question:
If a couple came to New York for the first time, what one show would you tell them to see?
Michael: You can't come to New York and see only one show. It would be like going to the Met Museum for the first time and looking at only one painting.
For more of Michael’s work, contact The Village Voice
I tell stories for a living; tell me yours; firstname.lastname@example.org
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