(Robert Viagas’s article appeared in Playbill Online, 2/13; via Pam Green.)
In an unusual move, Jack Viertel, artistic director of the City Encores! series in New York, sent a scathing letter to The New York Times over a review of the Encores! revival of Big River (the Tony-winning musical adaptation of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huck Finn) posted by critic Laura Collins-Hughes—a largely positive review.
In the letter addressed to the Times’ theatre editor Scott Heller, Viertel termed the review “beyond embarrassing—shameful” because of what he termed, “myopic notions about Mark Twain, Big River itself and the place of racial and gender diversity.”
Heller drafted a reply with culture editor Danielle Mattoon, which he shared with Playbill.com. In it, the two Times editors told Viertel that his letter did a “disservice to the seriousness with which all Times critics take their responsibilities.”
Photo: Charlotte Observer.