Thursday, October 4, 2007

Producer's Lament

Well, the one LA review from Harvey Finklestein's Sock Puppet Showgirls is in and it is...not good. Not terrible, but not good.

I try not to get too upset at the crusty old bitch (kidding,kidding, sort of.) as it is more than obvious this type of humor is not her cup of tea. (When a reviewer begins their review of this show by disparaging the opening warm-up speech you can tell the reviewer doesn't enjoy our sense of humor as the warm-up speech was basically designed as a warning to the audience and actually tells them "If you don't find this funny, now is your chance to leave." Of course if you are a reviewer, I guess you don't have that option. But I mean- hey! We told you!)

For all of my readers who have never produced a show, which I suspect is all of you, what does this mean?

Reviews can be the angel of mercy or the kiss of death for a show. Ironically, a pleasant review was the impetous of this show becoming more than a 2 night lark with friends and grew it into a cult phenomenon. I have also experienced the killing of a show due to terrible opening reviews (google UU7: A Magician Never Tells His Tricks). This situation is a little more maddening as the crowd on opening night was so explosively responsive and so clearly enjoying themselves and that was not mentioned at all in the review. Whereas for the UU7 opening, everything went wrong and we all kind of saw the response coming.

For the review is essentially, one person's opinion of the show. You probably read movie reviews or music reviews and maybe you identify with certain reviewers whom you trust and others you think are crazy. Unfortunately in the theatre world on a street paper level there are so many reviewers that people don't really get that opportunity to know if they share somebody's opinions or not.

So the question is, does this review have the power to kill this show? I'm not really sure. For one thing, LA doesn't seem to have the plethora of street papers that you find in both NYC and Chicago. This could either mean that it consolidates the influence of the one that is out there or that no one really pays attention to it in general. Sometimes just getting a review, even if it is not particularly glowing, is enough to bring people in the door. We have tons of great press from other cities, but does that mean anything to people if they don't read it? Will word of mouth be enough to bring the people in the door regardless?

Nothing to do but wait and see.


Lakeview Coffee Joe said...

I never listen to reviewers. I find them to be snobbish and "book" people. They aren't real. They would use bidets for instance. If I want to know how good a show is, I ask around until I find someone I know who has seen it.

stef said...

that's what I like to hear Joe!

alexis said...

depends on what's getting reviewed. unless it's for a restaurant I tend to take it with a grain of salt. For the arts reviewers are typically people who failed to do the act itself well, and therefore bitter and mean in general.

I almost never go to theatre unless I know someone or have heard something.

Dad said...

It seems to be such a painful way to have one's work judged - by one or two self-styled arbiters of what is good or not.