All stories by John Simon on BroadwayStars

Monday, January 22, 2018

Critics and Criticism by John Simon

“Are critics necessary?” a good many people ask, not a few of them the butts of some kind of criticism. Certainly if dray horses, victims of he whip, could speak, the answer would be No.…

SOURCE: John Simon at 09:18PM
Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Same Sex by John Simon

I have sometimes been called (wrongly) a homophobe. But let’s start with the word “homosexual.” The “homo,” per se, has nothing to do with homosexuality. It comes from the Greek …

SOURCE: John Simon at 09:02PM
Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Names by John Simon

Names are more significant than one might offhand assume.  I am thinking of first (or given, or Christian names) names, whose bearers may or may not be concerned with, or even aware of,…

SOURCE: John Simon at 11:33AM
Saturday, December 9, 2017

Onomatopoeia by John Simon

There is a salient aspect of language that I haven’t handled hitherto--not alliteration, as in these consecutive h-words, but onomatopoeia, Greek for name-making. What it really means is w…

SOURCE: John Simon at 04:54PM
Saturday, December 2, 2017

Languages by John Simon

Be prepared for vehement disagreement with what follows, but mind that I am not proposing it as a binding universal truth, only as my own certainly arguable private views. What I am assertin…

SOURCE: John Simon at 02:06AM
Monday, November 6, 2017

MYTHS by John Simon

Some stories are, or ought to be, mythic. I may have already adduced them before and will try not to repeat myself, though these days my memory Is far from reliable. Now does it much matter …

SOURCE: John Simon at 10:36AM
Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Danielle Darrieux by John Simon

A very smart ex-girlfriend of mine always began reading the Times with the obituaries. The obits, to give them their nickname, are the important epilogue to a life, a summing-up that may sli…

SOURCE: John Simon at 01:12AM
Wednesday, October 18, 2017

GOD by John Simon

Sooner or later the question of God raises its troubling head for most of us. Does he exist or doesn’t he? Or has he died, as Nietzsche postulated? And if he exists, where exactly does he?…

SOURCE: John Simon at 10:54AM
Sunday, October 8, 2017

VARIOUS by John Simon

A popular miscalculation in my view is the notion of a first and last in literature. Presumably to enhance their subject’s importance, scholars and critics have made out a writer to be the…

SOURCE: John Simon at 02:12AM
Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Who Killed Poetry? by John Simon

I write as an occasional verse writer and constant poetry lover. Also one-time teacher of poetry in a writing course. Further, poetry reciter of great distinction according to my wife, thoug…

SOURCE: John Simon at 02:48PM
Thursday, September 7, 2017

Heroism by John Simon

In Brecht’s “Galileo” we read, “Unhappy the land that has no heroes . . . No.  Unhappy the land that is in need of heroes.” An amusing paradox, but coming from Brecht, a cowar…

SOURCE: John Simon at 01:42AM
Friday, August 11, 2017

Retorts by John Simon

One of the glories of language is the witty rejoinder, riposte or retort. It is the answer in a quick, witty or caustic response (The Heritage Dictionary) to someone’s comment or verbal as…

SOURCE: John Simon at 08:42PM
Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Names, Titles and Some Usage Notes by John Simon

It is perhaps unsurprising that there should be fashions in first names, perhaps influenced by movie stars or more arcane sources. What is certain is that the fashion for Ryan is besieging u…

SOURCE: John Simon at 01:18AM
Thursday, June 29, 2017


Some Tonys are sound and meritorious, such as the 2017 ones for Kevin Kline Rachel Bay Jones, “Jitney,” Nigel Hook (set designer for “The Play That Goes Wrong”), Santo Loquasto, Gavi…

SOURCE: John Simon at 12:42PM
Sunday, June 4, 2017


Is there anything more elusive than what constitutes sexual attraction? It comes in a great variety of types, sometimes simple, sometimes complex, and not infrequently indeterminable, undefi…

SOURCE: John Simon at 04:06PM
Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Canadians and Others by John Simon

I have nothing against Canadians save that their export in shows is always questionable, whether it is “To Grandmother’s House We Go,” “The Drowsy Chaperone,” or now “Come From A…

SOURCE: John Simon at 08:54PM

Marriage, Good, Bad and Indifferent by John Simon

Marriage, what a glorious and godawful, tremendous and terrible thing it is! Of all inventions one of the few rightfully enduring ones, but surely an invention. Not something born into one a…

SOURCE: John Simon at 08:54PM
Tuesday, April 25, 2017

STYLE by John Simon

In his “Books for Living,” Will Schwalbe refers to a friend as having an enjoyable style in his writing. He does not elaborate on what made it enjoyable. But whatever it was, it had to b…

SOURCE: John Simon at 05:12PM
Friday, March 10, 2017

Barbara Hugo by John Simon

Her name was Barbara Hugo, and she was beautiful, and perhaps a touch otherworldly in her delicate loveliness. But let me make clear, she was no fragile, pretty-pretty China doll. Perhaps mo…

SOURCE: John Simon at 11:54AM
Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Contra Trump by John Simon

One morning, Lord Byron woke up and found himself famous. One more recent morning, we awoke and found ourselves infamous: Donald J. Trump had been elected President. Only an atom bomb would …

SOURCE: John Simon at 12:03AM
Monday, February 6, 2017

FASHION by John Simon

What a bizarre, paradoxical, self-contradictory and ephemeral thing is fashion! On the one hand, it challenges haute couture to come up with ever more unique, far out, incomparable women’s…

SOURCE: John Simon at 12:06PM
Wednesday, January 11, 2017

TEACHERS by John Simon

My fans sometimes ask me whether I have learned from other writers, and if so, what and from whom. This does not elicit easy answers for more reasons than one. The first probable influence i…

SOURCE: John Simon at 01:48PM
Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Bittersweet by John Simon

“Sweet Charity” is as good a musical as can lap at the heels of top tier, and can even, in the right production, make it there. It does, after all, have a book by Neil Simon, music by Cy…

SOURCE: John Simon at 03:42PM
Thursday, December 8, 2016

Natasha, Pierre & the Great Etcetera by John Simon

So now we have “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1912,” transferred after a hiatus to Broadway and ensconced at the Imperial Theater, in a grandiose setting it does not really de…

SOURCE: John Simon at 06:48PM

More Second Opinions by John Simon

“Dear Evan Hansen” was, in my view, an undeserved hit Off Broadway, and is so again on Broadway, once more harvesting critical raves as numerous and useless as fallen autumn leaves. In…

SOURCE: John Simon at 06:48PM

Nicky Silver, Perky and Pointed by John Simon

All writers in general and playwrights in particular are uneven. Perfection is not a widely recognized human attribute. As the poet Horace cannily observed, “Sometimes even good old Homer …

SOURCE: John Simon at 06:48PM
Monday, November 14, 2016


The Westchester Guardian is gone, and once again I have had the horse shot out from under me. True, it may not have been much of a mount—more like Don Quixote’s spavined nag Rosinante—…

SOURCE: John Simon at 03:42PM
Tuesday, November 1, 2016


Some few mistakes are actually charming. A bunch of us Harvard undergraduates were fans of the delightful French soprano Lily Pons. So we sent her an ardent fan letter, naively hoping for a …

SOURCE: John Simon at 05:06PM
Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Immortality by John Simon

Ever since the year one, and probably even before, people have speculated about death and what could be done to defeat it, as in John Donne’s famous sonnet. But live forever not in Donne…

SOURCE: John Simon at 07:50PM
Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Noses by John Simon

Probably the most famous reference to the nose is the phrase “Cleopatra’s nose,”  derived from Pascal’s celebrated pensee, “If the nose of Cleopatra had been shorter, the whol…

SOURCE: John Simon at 12:26AM
Thursday, August 25, 2016

Morality by John Simon

Clearly, justice must be the same for all, but is this not true also of morality? Yet for some people, under certain circumstances, this is hardly the case. There exist certain persons by wh…

SOURCE: John Simon at 08:46PM

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