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David Leveaux replies… (with words, not fists)

Turning its pages into something as much akin to a blog as it is to a newspaper, The Guardian runs an interesting exercise every week when it invites artists to respond to their reviews (usually of the negative kind) in its pages. Today David Leveaux has replied to what he calls Michael Billington’s “grumpy” review of his production of Sinatra at the London Palladium, that Leaveaux says “does a disservice to the energy of the West End”.

“How it can be called ‘glitzy necrophilia’ to create a show involving footage of Sinatra doing what he did best – singing – escapes me. And unless it is somehow ‘necrophiliac’ to screen any film involving a performer who ahs since died, it is surely complete nonsense. As Tom Stoppard once said of a similarly flip and easy argument: it’s like exercising on a lilo.”

But at least Leveaux is exercising his comments in print, not in the bar. A couple of years ago New York theatre gossip columnist supreme, the New York Post’s Michael Riedel, earned a particular badge of honour when he was punched to the floor by an aggrieved Leveaux for Riedel’s relentless badgering of his Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof.

Critics have been threatened with physical violence from time to time, but Leveaux actually put his fist where Riedel’s mouth is. Billington should therefore consider himself lucky to have only been challenged in words, not deeds.

4 Comments

I don't want to diminish Leveaux's rep as a tough guy but I believe there was no punching involved in the New York incident. According to those present, Riedel made some rather nasty remarks (for which he's renowned), Leveaux grabbed him and wrestled him to the ground. Since Riedel admits he was drunk at the time, it wasn't difficult for him to end up on the floor with his watch band broken. The proprietor Angus McIndoe threw Riedel out and later told him on Riedel's own theatre show that "If you'd said to me what you said to him I'd have broken more than your watch".

Needless to say, Riedel dined out on the incident for months and took every opportunity to leak damaging information about the backstage incidents at Leveaux's Glass Menagerie (which wasn't the best of productions it must be said).

Thanks for the clarification, Kate! I should have said "wrestled to the floor" rather than "punched to the floor", clearly!

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Allow me to make a correction. Riedel is NOT a critic. He is a gossip columnist for the NY Post which is a newspaper tabloid. He is a gossip columnist who only covers the theatre world.

I never said he *was* a critic -- in fact, my exact words were, "gossip columnist supreme"; but I can see that, by mixing the comment in with a reference to Leveaux's reaction (in print) to a critic, it blurred the boundaries....!

Recent Comments

Mark Shenton on David Leveaux replies... (with words, not fists)
I never said he *was* a critic -- in fac...
Michael M. Landman-Karny on David Leveaux replies... (with words, not fists)
Allow me to make a correction. Riedel is...
Mark Shenton on David Leveaux replies... (with words, not fists)
Thanks for the clarification, Kate! I sh...
Kate on David Leveaux replies... (with words, not fists)
I don't want to diminish Leveaux's rep a...

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