Kudos to Adam Feldman for calling out the producers of The Fantasticks for whipsawing Ben Brantley’s more or less tepid review of the revival wildly out of context — promoting his words so as to seem as if the man had experienced his first Dionysian orgasm since Rent.
Feldman writes (getting in one extra slam):
…Like most reviewers, including this one, Brantley didn’t care much for the mothball-scented revival of The Fantasticks, which opened in 2006. He did, however, find space to praise the performance of one actor, Tom Jones (who is also the show’s librettist). “Unlike much of the rest of this production, he feels like the real thing,” wrote Brantley, later adding that Jones “gives a perfectly pitched, disarmingly sincere performance that captures why The Fantasticks became the enduring favorite it did.” Brantley also recalled having seen the original production many years ago, when he was a child, and generously allowed the following: “And who knows? There may be a few 9-year-olds out there…who will conclude that The Fantasticks is the last word in theatrical sophistication.”
On the doorway to the Snapple Theater Center, those sentiments have become the following: “A perfectly pitched performance that captures why The Fantasticks became the enduring favorite it did. The Fantasticks is the last word in theatrical sophistication.”
Now, let’s have a moment for the other side, shall we? After all, there could be mitigating factors we’re simply not aware of. For example, perhaps the perpetually persnickety people pulling for National Grammar Day decreed all ellipses should be banned. We live a dot-saturated world — time to put our dot-domination days behind us.
Perhaps the website of the Elision Ensemble (“Australia’s international contemporary music ensemble”) was sitting on the desktop of the producer who mangled Brantley’s quote, or took the name of the ensemble too literally.
Producers have to be called out now and then when they engage in advertising practices that are unethical at minimum and deceptive advertising — with whatever legal implications ensue — at maximum.
While I do believe Feldman’s Drama Critics Circle unquestionably has some ethical ickyness of its own to cop to, at least that’s inside-baseball stuff. It’s not about foisting advertising onto the general public in a way that purposefully twists a critic’s words out of their original intent. With luck, soon its gonna rain on such nincompoopery.