Last week, New York Post theater columnist Michael Riedel revealed that Oxfeld would be assuming the critic’s role at The New York Observer, after the paper’s longtime theater critic John Heilpern stepped down from his post.
Oxfeld, a self-proclaimed “theater obsessive,” told FishbowlNY that he “fell backwards” into the Observer‘s critic spot, “which is ridiculous and fun and a classic Broadway plotline,” he said.
Earlier this year, Oxfeld jumped at the chance to do theater coverage for the Observer as part of the paper’s plan to expand its culture coverage under new editor Tom McGeveran. But since the summer is a slow time in the theater world, Oxfeld only had the chance to write one review before Heilpern decided to depart. Now instead of playing second fiddle to Heilpern, Oxfeld will primarily take on meaty Broadway show reviews.
“I joke that I’ve been promoted from Charles to Ben,” Oxfeld said, referring to The New York Times‘ two theater critics. “I haven’t done much Broadway reviewing before. I did a little bit for New York and I think I did some reviews for the Sun. I don’t have the experience that some people have. But I saw my first Broadway show when I was four, so I’ve been going to Broadway theater for 29 years at least occasionally and for the last five or ten years pretty regularly.”
His first review will be of “A Steady Rain,” filled with the very handsome Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig, although it’s doubtful the show will live up to Oxfeld’s favorites, which include the early 90′s staging of “Guys & Dolls” starring Nathan Lane and Peter Gallagher.
And while he’s working as a freelancer for The Observer, Oxfeld continues to work tirelessly at his day job at Tablet, which he says is gearing up for its coverage of the high holidays.
“I’ve usually only got one job at a time, so this is somewhat unusual for me,” Oxfeld said of his new critic gig. “But this seems like something really fun thing to do.”
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