Monday, March 17, 2008

I get my coffee...

Greetings from Long Island, where I am dealing with yet another family situation. My life is exciting, isn't it?

In The Times article about Young Frankenstein today, Campbell Robertson doesn't discuss my favorite point: That all the new commercials prominently display the phone number, which is 1-888-Mel-Brooks (or 1-888-Mel-Broo), seemingly saying, "Hey, you may hate Young Frankenstein, but remember who wrote it! You love Mel Brooks!" That number might have been around before the bad reviews, but never have I seen it so much...

Anyway, the biggest news of the past week (the news I ignored on Wednesday) was the "huge success" of In The Heights. I have yet to see it on Broadway and I'm excited to one day do so... I hope all its problems were fixed in transfer. But I want to take a look, as I often do, at how spin frequently takes over from fact.

I was out Sunday night and I kept getting calls about the "rave" Times review for the show. Sample caller: "Cara, did you read the Times review? It's so good..." Then, when I got home, I did read the review. (I try not to read reviews before I see the production, but, because I saw this off-Broadway, I figured it was semi-safe.) Am I the only one who didn't read it as a rave? I mean--here is what I got from it: this guy is great, his music is top-notch and the choreography is interesting, but the story isn't good. That to me isn't a rave. That's like: go see it for this guy and his tunes, but the show needs work it didn't get in the transfer. Now, it does say "go see it" but it's still not a rave, in my mind. Yet the spin is so "RAVE." That's all I hear. I'm happy to hear that people are excited about something--especially something that can bring in a new audience--but I often wonder why spin takes over on some shows and doesn't on others. The same thing happens out-of-town--I think I mentioned before that for a while the buzz was randomly that Cry-Baby got across-the-board GREAT reviews, when, in fact, that isn't true. And, again, if the people are excited, I'm excited about that excitement, but.... I'm confused by it as well.

Perhaps there is a bent to support new artists in the theater? A Catered Affair won the majority of San Diego critics awards over Cry-Baby yet the NY buzz on that was much softer on that out-of-town. Of course the reasoning could be that Cry-Baby is THE NEW JOHN WATERS MUSICAL and A Catered Affair is a musical version of a movie I did not remember seeing... But, the reasoning could also be based on the fact that (despite this being Bucchino's first Broadway show) Cry-Baby seems like it has a hipper team attached to it... And we like to support hip teams more... (Someone is going to point out that Cry-Baby is more of a big crowd-pleaser and so the positive reviews of that were more like 'this is great fun!' and that is natural based on the subject matter... but I contend there is more to it.)

I believe the desire to support young theater artists is a perfectly valid one. So I am not attacking it. And I'm not saying that's the reason for overly-positive spin reviews of certain shows receive. I'm just saying that is one possible theory behind it. I'm sure there are many more... (Thus ends the disclaimer portion of the evening.)

Now I need to get something to eat. Until Wednesday...

10 comments:

Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Cara Joy, First, I sincerely hope everything gets better for you and your family.

Second, on the subject of In The Heights, I agree with you that Charles Isherwood most definitely did not offer a rave. He took issue with plenty, even though he clearly found a lot to enjoy.

When I offered my critics' capsule on the show, I said of Isherwood's review: "Saluting 'this scrappy little musical about chasing your dreams and finding your true home,' while noting it 'is Mr. Miranda’s own dream come true,' Charles Isherwood of The New York Times shows remarkable enthusiasm among his criticisms."

Cheers, Steve

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