T. H. Parker

The Courant's Theater Critic T. H. Parker, center (with hat), is shown being denied admission to the New Parsons Theater. (Courant File Photo)

Nobody loves a critic.

Especially a producer of a show that received a stinging pan in The Courant.

In mid-20th century, when Broadway-bound shows were getting their tryouts in New Haven and Hartford, The Courant's T.H. Parker was a considerable force in theater.

The New Parsons Theater opened in 1951 in Hartford hoping to revive the glory days of its namesake. It was soon attracting stars such as Gloria Swanson and David Niven. But quality was not always high in the productions. Criticism by The Courant caused the theater's management to ban critics, charging that Parker's comments were "savage" and claiming the legal right to "revoke the personal license of admission" represented by the ticket.

The Courant took a dim view of the theater's action. It introduced legislation under which places of entertainment would no longer have the right to bar anyone, even a critic who had purchased a ticket.

In 1954, the state became the third in the nation (New York and California preceded us) to prevent theaters from barring critics.

During its critic-less time, the theater struggled and closed after three years