Ben Brantley
Born (1954-10-26) October 26, 1954 (age 69)
EducationSwarthmore College
Years active1975–present

Benjamin D. Brantley (born October 26, 1954) is an American theater critic, journalist, editor, publisher, and writer. He served as the chief theater critic for The New York Times from 1996 to 2017, and as co-chief theater critic from 2017 to 2020.

Early life

Born in Durham, North Carolina on October 26, 1954, Brantley received a Bachelor of Arts in English from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, graduating in 1977, and is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.[1][2]


Brantley began his journalism career as a summer intern at the Winston-Salem Sentinel and, in 1975, became an editorial assistant at The Village Voice. At Women's Wear Daily, he was a reporter and then editor from 1978 to 1983, and later became the European editor, publisher, and Paris bureau chief until June 1985.[1]

For the next 18 months, Brantley freelanced, writing regularly for Elle, Vanity Fair, and The New Yorker before joining The New York Times as a Drama Critic (August 1993). He was elevated to Chief Theater Critic three years later.[1]

Brantley is the editor of The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century, a compilation of 125 reviews published by St. Martin's Press in 2001. He received the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism for 1996-1997.[1] He was the inspiration for the website, which used a "Ben-Ometer" to translate New York Times reviews into ratings.[3] It expanded to become Did They Like It?, an aggregator for Broadway reviews from other major publications.[4]

Brantley has been dubbed a "celebrity underminer."[5] In an article in The New York Times, published on January 3, 2010, he expressed his ambivalence about the "unprecedented heights" of "star worship on Broadway during the past 10 years."[6]

In 2018, Brantley was criticized for his review of the musical Head Over Heels, which contained comments about the play's principal character, played by drag queen Peppermint, that were seen as transphobic.[7][8] The Times subsequently edited the review and Brantley issued an apology, writing that he had tried to "reflect the light tone of the show", but his remarks instead came off as "more flippant than I would have ever intended".[9]

Brantley retired from his position as the paper's co-chief theatre critic in 2020, but continued to contribute columns afterward.[10]

Personal life

Brantley, who is gay, lives in New York City.[11][12]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "BIOGRAPHY: Ben Brantley, Chief Theater Critic". The New York Times. February 20, 2004. Archived from the original on July 3, 2007. Retrieved July 1, 2007.
  2. ^ "Ben Brantley :: Department of Theater". Swarthmore College. July 8, 2014. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  3. ^ Kassel, Matthew (April 12, 2013). "Ben Brantley Is Mad for Matilda". Observer. Retrieved November 26, 2023.
  4. ^ "Did They Like It? - Official Site". Retrieved November 26, 2023.
  5. ^ "Ben Brantley: Celebrity Underminer". New York. Archived from the original on December 18, 2009. Retrieved January 24, 2010.
  6. ^ Brantley, Ben (January 3, 2010). "Hot Ticket: Nicole, Denzel and, Oh, a Play". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 21, 2010. Retrieved January 24, 2010.
  7. ^ McHenry, Jackson (July 27, 2018). "New York Times Critic Gets Dragged for Misgendering in Head Over Heels Review". Vulture. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
  8. ^ Steiner, Chelsea (July 27, 2018). "Ben Brantley's New York Times Review of Head Over Heels Mocks Non-Binary and Trans Folks". The Mary Sue. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
  9. ^ Huston, Caitlin (July 27, 2018). "Ben Brantley issues apology for 'Head Over Heels' review". Broadway News. Retrieved May 8, 2022.
  10. ^ Cruz, Gilbert; Heller, Scott (September 10, 2020). "Ben Brantley, Take a Bow". The New York Times Company. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  11. ^ Weinert-Kendt, Rob (March 24, 2017). "Jesse Green is Looking for a Good Argument".
  12. ^ Bahr, David (January 22, 2002). "Bright light of Broadway". The Advocate. Retrieved July 1, 2007.