Terry Teachout, the Wall Street Journal theater critic, attended last night’s opening of Lost in the Stars at Theatre 3. Teachout and I both blog for Artsjournal.com — his peripatetic and prolific jottings about the arts can be found there in About Last Night — so it was a pleasure to meet him in person finally. Because Rupert Murdoch considers the Journal a national paper, Teachout has the enviable and exhausting mandate to cover theater all around the country, when he isn’t reviewing Broadway openings — and writing his own books. In our grave new media world of newspapers-without-arts-sections, his position is pretty much unheard-of. Even when newspapers HAD arts sections, his position would have been notable.
Teachout’s decision to see a stage show somewhere on this continent, he says, is usually dictated by the nature of the show and whether it hooks his interest. In the case of Lost in the Stars, it’s a large-scale musical by Kurt Weill that’s rarely staged anywhere and hasn’t been revived on Broadway since 1972. He wanted to see whether it was revivable. And he was in the neighborhood anyway: He’d just come up from Houston, where he saw Clifford Odet’s almost-as-rare 1935 drama, Awake and Sing! at the Main Street Theater. In contrast, Teachout showed little interest in the fall openings of the Winspear Opera House and the Wyly Theatre. But he might be convinced to come back to North Texas, he says, if the Dallas Theater Center hires an interesting director for — of all things — Death of a Salesman. He’s just never reviewed the Miller drama for the Journal and wants to give it a shot.
Amid all the blogging and Broadway reviewing and cross-country hopscotching, Teachout has written Pops, a new biography of Louis Armstrong set to be released in December, and is making his debut as an opera librettist in July with the Santa Fe Opera’s premiere of The Letter, which Teachout and composer Paul Moravec have adapted from W. Somerset Maugham’s short-story-turned-stage-drama.
Let’s all take a breath. He makes me feel both tired at his frenetic pace and embarrassed by my own poky little efforts.
Teachout’s review of Lost in the Stars should run Friday in the Journal.