One of the most recognizable names in the world of theater criticism is stepping down. John Lahr, the senior theater critic for the New Yorker for close to 20 years, is quitting regular reviewing for the magazine to concentrate on profile writing and book projects.
The New Yorker made the announcement this week on its arts blog, Culture Desk. Lahr joined the magazine in 1992 during the Tina Brown era and has contributed numerous pieces of criticism as well as longer profiles on famous cultural figures including Ingmar Bergman, Woody Allen, Judi Dench and Helen Mirren.
As a critical voice, Lahr has been generally less feared than some of his more vicious peers at the New York Times and other local publications. Lahr reviewed the original production of Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America” in Los Angeles, and the Broadway run of Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia.”
This week, he reviewed the new Broadway revival of “Annie” (“listless”) and Samuel Hunter’s off-Broadway play “The Whale” (“compelling, psychologically complex”).
The magazine has not announced a replacement, but Lahr isn’t the only staff theater critic at the New Yorker. Hilton Als joined the magazine in 2002 and most recently reviewed the new Broadway revival of “The Heiress,” starring Jessica Chastain and Dan Stevens.
Lahr, who is the son of “Wizard of Oz” actor Bert Lahr, divides his time between New York and London, according to his official website.