Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A quick post because I care...

I have no time to write a thorough analysis as I'm exhausted, but I wanted to point out what might be evidence of a change in theater journalism. In the last few days, two previewing shows have essentially been reviewed in major publications. There is the New York Magazine cover story on Julia Roberts, which sort of says her screen charm doesn't translate. The author of the theater then notably says: "This isn't a review. That would be unfair (even though my ticket was once more than $250)." More overt is the horrible Roger Friedman review of Lestat posted on Foxnews.com. I think my favorite line of that is "Almost nothing can prepare you for Lestat." Now would these things be so noticeable if they were both really positive assessments? No. Haven't columnists (Riedel and others) been making little digs like this for years and years? Yes. Nevertheless these stand out--maybe because they both attack huge targets (a gigantic movie star and a big-budget musical) or possibly because they arrived in quick succession.

What does this all mean? Is the Broadway tradition of waiting until opening falling away? I think it just might be, slowly. Personally, I love tradition, so I am sort of for the waiting. However I've often wondered why journalists continue to respect the preview period since reduced-priced previews have been all but demolished. If people who come before opening are paying the same as people who come after, shouldn't they be seeing a performance good enough to be reviewed? Are there shows that are worthy of people paying $100 but not worthy of being assessed by David Rooney? I am all about the questions.

OK, sleep time. I'm getting old.

6 comments:

Jugi said...

I agree that reduced prices are probably the way to go for previews, as you could justify this as a period of adjustment in which the show is fine tuning. But experience shows that this means nothing to people if they really want to see a show. The more demand there is, the more it matters little what the price is -- people are just gonna pay it. I also believe that critics should wait before reviewing a show -- I don't necessarily buy the 'paying post-opening prices = review before opening' argument. So as soon as you're ready to launch a protest, count me in.

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