Best Theater Success Story

Critics' Picks

David Cromer

“David Cromer has arrived,” declared a December 2000 Reader profile on the director, who was getting loads of critical love at the time for a series of hit local productions he’d staged. “Arrived” then meant he could quit his day job and “make theater a full-time profession.” Since then Cromer has arrived again, on a much grander scale, thanks to another series of hits, including a musical version of Elmer Rice’s The Adding Machine at Next Theatre and a reimagined Our Town with the Hypocrites. Both of those shows went to New York, earning Cromer prestigious awards, idolatrous press, and buzz enough to get him an assignment directing the Broadway revivals of Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound.

The former flopped and the latter never even opened, but nobody seems to blame Cromer: he’ll be back on Broadway with a musical next season. In the meantime he’s directed a well-received show at Lincoln Center and a Chicago-area production of A Streetcar Named Desire that the Reader’s review called “masterful.” And Our Town is still running in New York. What’s delightful about all this is not just that it was achieved by force of talent, but that the talent in question is so unassuming. Like love in First Corinthians, Cromer’s productions are not puffed up but delight in the truth. Quietly, without undue affectation, they turn texts we think we know just enough so that we see them anew.