TOO MUCH OSCAR WILDE? I have long believed that the New York Times, which has extraordinary power over New York theater, does not like revivals of classic plays. An essay (December 22) by Jason Zinoman provides some evidence. It asked: “The Roundabout Theater has programmed a revival of’ ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ this month, which is nice. But why not use the built-in audience for holiday entertainment to try something entirely new? Or at least that hasn’t already been on Broadway eight times?” I followed the link on the words “eight times”, and got this information from the Internet Broadway Data Base:
“#1 Apr 22, 1895 – Closing date unknown Play / Original Empire Theatre, NY, USA
#2 Apr 14, 1902 – May 1902 Play / Revival Empire Theatre, NY, USA
#3 Nov 14, 1910 – Dec 1910 Play / Revival Lyceum Theatre, NY, USA
#4 Jan 20, 1921 – Feb 1921 Play / Revival Bramhall Playhouse, NY, USA
#5 May 3, 1926 – Jul 1926 Play / Revival Comedy Theatre, NY, USA
#6 Jan 12, 1939 – Mar 1939 Play / Revival Vanderbilt Theatre, NY, USA
#7 Mar 3, 1947 – May 10, 1947 Play / Revival Royale Theatre, NY, USA
#8 Jun 16, 1977 – Aug 28, 1977 Play / Revival Circle in the Square Theatre, NY, USA
#9 Jan 13, 2011 – Play / Revival American Airlines Theatre, NY, USA”

That is, the play has been done seven times on Broadway before 1947 and also in 1977 (a generation ago). And the New York Times reviewers are complaining that it has been done too much.

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