I didn't find the reference to Stoppard particulary distracting, myself. And given the ballet's subject matter and title I can understand why the work of Housman might come to Macaulay's mind.
Always the master of the put-down he reflects on Scarlett's "cherubic, curly haired, wide-eyed puckishness"-
Respectfully, atm711, I tend to agree with those who have said that this wasn't intended as a put-down.
It's also a trope I've seen in other profiles of artists (e.g., "Some not familiar with his work might find it hard to imagine, given X's cherubic face, bright eyes, and cheerful outlook, that in his writing he is preoccupied with the grimmest of subjects, torture and murder." )
I took it as a tactic employed by a writer on deadline in search of a lede in the wee hours of the morning, and nothing more sinister than that. Were McCauley writing on a different schedule, I suspect (or at least I hope) he'd jettison some of the tools he relies on to crank out timely copy.
Except that, knowing Scarlett's previous work, he may have written that lede provisionally before he even saw the ballet. Anyhow, I've enjoyed this discussion. Love Macaulay (I do) or hate him, he's always interesting.