Brantley is the chief theater critic for the Times.
A Swarthmore grad, Brantley started his career with stints at the Village Voice and the Winston-Salem Sentinel before joining Women's Wear Daily in 1978. He went on to become WWD's European editor and Paris bureau chief, leaving the company in 1985 when he lost out to Patrick McCarthy for the position of WWD editor-in-chief.
After spending several years writing for the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and Elle, Brantley signed up with the Times in 1993. He spent three years covering the theater scene and became the Gray Lady's chief theater critic in 1996, succeeding Vincent Canby, who had stepped in three years earlier to replace Frank Rich.
Known as "Big Ben" to the Broadway producers who track his every move, Brantley's reviews have the power to make or break a show. He wields his power judiciously, though—he's hardly as harsh as Post columnist Michael Riedel or his Times colleague Charles Isherwood.
Brantley edited the 2001 review anthology The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century.