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NY Critics Lack of Respect

Noel&Cole
Leading Actor
joined:11/10/07
NY Critics Lack of Respect
Posted: 8/20/14 at 11:57am
Reading Michael Riedel's column this morning, I continue to be frustrated and baffled by the lack of respect from the NY Times as well as other NYC press for developing shows. From PORGY & BESS a while back to this summer FINDING NEVERLAND at ART or THE VISIT and LIVING ON LOVE at Williamstown. Giving these shows NY Times reviews is not right.

I understand a star or creative team might be news worthy and I respect it's their job to cover the news BUT Critique is not the news. Do a feature or interview, but it's not right to review shows that are doing out of town engagements specifically for the purpose of improvement & growth. This is a new trend that I find disgusting. It can kill shows before they have a chance to mature. I was mad when it happened with PORGY & BESS but thought perhaps it would just be one off because of the Sondheim editorial argument.

It's a clear lack of respect for artists and the development process. The NY Times should be ashamed of themselves.
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newintown
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/10
NY Critics Lack of Respect
Posted: 8/20/14 at 12:02pm
So - the Boston reviewers can cover the show, but not New York? How far out should the Iron Curtain be lowered? 50 miles? 100 miles? Can the Providence reviewers write about a Boston production? How about Portsmouth?

Can the NY reviewers go to Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and write about shows there? Or can they only write about out of town shows that haven't specifically stated that they're planning to come to Broadway?

And conversely, should out-of-town reviewers be prohibited from writing about a New York show that's planning to come to their town?

What are the actual definitions of the strictures you'd like to see imposed?
After Eight
Broadway Legend
joined:6/5/09
NY Critics Lack of Respect
Posted: 8/20/14 at 12:12pm
In the good old days, shows with designated pre-Broadway tryouts played cities as close to New York as Philadelphia and New Haven. Yet the NY critics didn't review them until they reached New York.

That was common courtesy as well as common sense. Now both have flown out the window.





Updated On: 8/20/14 at 12:12 PM
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wickedfan
Broadway Legend
joined:12/25/03
NY Critics Lack of Respect
Posted: 8/20/14 at 12:17pm
But these aren't billed as out of town try outs. They're billed as regional premieres. The Visit didn't announce its Williamstown run as a pre-Broadway engagement, nor did Porgy and Bess, The Glass Menagerie, or Finding Neverland. The latter three all announced "transfers" to Broadway, but when all three productions originally announced their premiere dates none said "This is an out of town tryout and will be coming to directly to Broadway afterwards." If they had, New York critics would not have come. That's why none went to Chicago to see The Last Ship or Big Fish. Or why none went to DC to review If/Then. And so on.

Brantley and all NY critics are completely in their right to review the shows. There's still a touch of foul taste to it, but it's completely fair game.
"Sing the words, Patti!!!!" Stephen Sondheim to Patti LuPone.
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newintown
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/10
NY Critics Lack of Respect
Posted: 8/20/14 at 12:18pm
That model has been dead for ages. No show goes from Philadelphia straight to Boston straight to New Haven straight to Broadway, making significant changes in each town.

Now the show gets workshopped (sometimes for a decade), maybe does 1 or (more rarely) 2 out of town productions where usually the changes are cosmetic rather than severe, and comes into NY up to a year later.

Boston papers are available to New Yorkers (to everyone else in the world, too) - what actual difference does it make if the New York reviewers write about a Boston show, too? What difference does it make if the LA reviewers go to Boston to write about it? Or the DC reviewers?

Hanging onto an idea just because "it's the way it used to be" is never logical. It's just conservatism for the sake of conservatism (or what they call "reactionary").
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Nateben2
Understudy
joined:5/26/14
NY Critics Lack of Respect
Posted: 8/20/14 at 12:19pm
This can be tricky . . . what if a show is big news, but has not announced plans to come to NYC . . .for example, Disney's Jungle Book . . . no announced plans to bring it in to NYC - but it was reviewed in Chicago (the first stop of a co-production of two regional theaters).

It's a tricky thing, if the review is good it can help the show land in NYC and get financing in place. If the review is bad, the whole show can be shuttered up.

Should the NYC be reviewing shows in London? SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE has no announced plans of coming into NYC, but common sense says it might . . . but who knows.

It's tricky.
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Jane2
Broadway Legend
joined:2/13/04
NY Critics Lack of Respect
Posted: 8/20/14 at 12:20pm
I don't even respect critics. I pay them no mind. But I know most people do, and in that way, it is a shame.
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D2
Broadway Legend
joined:12/3/06
NY Critics Lack of Respect
Posted: 8/20/14 at 12:24pm
How is it any different, really, from the the "First Preview Fanatics" posting their thoughts almost before the curtain comes down in New York, or Boston, or Chicago, or ...? As has been said, that old model is gone, and with formerly private information now a split-second away from public consumption, it's not coming back.
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dreaming
Broadway Legend
joined:4/24/09
NY Critics Lack of Respect
Posted: 8/20/14 at 12:24pm
I guess we all forget freedom of the press. I personally loathe Reidel but consider him a gossip columnist.

As for reviewing shows out of town, the good old days are gone. Also, enough people who use sites like this one review the shows they see out of town, so why shouldn't professional critics be allowed to? It also can be constructive for the creatives. (Or not-some disregard them and bulldoze ahead-that's their prerogative.) Either way, I don't see it as a necessarily bad thing-in some ways it's quality control.
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SomethingPeculiar
Chorus Member
joined:6/15/14
NY Critics Lack of Respect
Posted: 8/20/14 at 12:26pm
On the flip side of this: It could be argued that the "On The Town" Revival would not be transferring to Broadway if itt hadn't received a rave review from Brantley during its Berkshire run last year. I don't think the show had any Bway aspirations when it began as a small summer stock production at Barrington last summer.

It's great that New York reviewers can find time to go out of town to review a regional production, in the same way that Chris Jones from the Chicago Tribune or rviewers from other out-of-town papers come to NYC to review Broadway shows.

Nobody complains when a show gets a positive review out of town (PaperMill's "Honeymoon in Vegas" or "Newsies")
Updated On: 8/20/14 at 12:26 PM
Noel&Cole
Leading Actor
joined:11/10/07
NY Critics Lack of Respect
Posted: 8/20/14 at 12:29pm
I mean it's semantics. Clearly FINDING NEVERLAND and THE VISIT both have their eyes set on Broadway. Did anyone think they didn't? Even if they haven't officially "announced". VERY rarely can anything do that in the current climate because the theatre owners won't give you a theatre until after you go out of town. That's the trend right now. So you have to be "regional premiere" than Pre-Broadway, because Broadway won't give you a home to announce with. The NY Times is still the paper of record. It's review is still of great importance to a show. They should only come to an out of town if invited.
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Brick
Broadway Legend
joined:11/21/06
NY Critics Lack of Respect
Posted: 8/20/14 at 12:34pm
Brantley reviewed it because he or his editor wanted to, with full knowledge they weren't invited or wanted yet. But it's a long tradition for editors and critics to come anyway - SPIDER WOMAN at SUNY Purchase comes to mind. The FINDING NEVERLAND review had a glee to it in taking down Weinstein, so I think this case had a little more than mild curiosity to it.
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dreaming
Broadway Legend
joined:4/24/09
NY Critics Lack of Respect
Posted: 8/20/14 at 12:34pm
Well if the critical reception of Bullets is any indication, then maybe out of town tryouts, critics and all, is a model to be followed.

I have worked at Williamstown-and the critics ARE invited. (Or they were when I was there.) So, they're not being devious or anything.
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wickedfan
Broadway Legend
joined:12/25/03
NY Critics Lack of Respect
Posted: 8/20/14 at 12:38pm
Any major show can have their eye on Broadway. Are the producers supposed to hide behind that mandate? "This isn't TECHNICALLY a try out but don't review us anyway because we'd really like to come to Broadway and the good chance that you'll pan us will cancel any plans!" They're still charging admission and claiming that it's a stand alone production. Based on that, it's within fair play for NY critics to come and review it. This wasn't an issue when Brantley went to A.R.T. and swooned over their Glass Menagerie or when the Times gave a glowing review to Gentleman's Guide at Hartford Stage. It's only an issue when the critics are negative.

Frank Rich did the same thing when Kiss of the Spiderwoman performed at SUNY Purchase. The production team said they didn't want it reviewed, but it had no announced plans for Broadway (simply a well-established Broadway creative team) and was charging admission and therefore constituted as a stand alone production, so Rich reviewed it. His review was much more savage than Brantley's for Finding Neverland and the show was actually the better for it. Kander, Ebb, McNally and Prince went back to the drawing board and created a much better show because of it.
"Sing the words, Patti!!!!" Stephen Sondheim to Patti LuPone.
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Mr Roxy
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
NY Critics Lack of Respect
Posted: 8/20/14 at 01:19pm
Totally agree with Jane2
Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth - Lillian Hellman.
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haterobics
Broadway Legend
joined:3/29/14
NY Critics Lack of Respect
Posted: 8/20/14 at 01:23pm
They play by the same rules for out of town tryouts, though, no? They wait until it opens for that run, as opposed to reviewing a preview, etc. If prominent reviewers weigh in on the work in progress, doesn't that just give you specific feedback on how the show is being perceived by professional critics?

I see this the same as people who complain about spoiler alerts on social media. If there is information you know is out there, it is your job to either find it or avoid it.

If the creative team wants feedback from those critics, it is available. If they don't, they can avoid it. If their producers are reading all negative reviews and it doesn't come to Broadway, maybe that just indicates it wasn't quite ready at this point to attempt a Broadway run.

In any case, I'm not sure why we have to pretend the Internet hasn't changed everything in this regard, and say these have always been the rules.
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Phantom of London
Broadway Legend
joined:3/26/08
NY Critics Lack of Respect
Posted: 8/20/14 at 02:03pm
Wasn't it the esteemed Michael Riedel who 'dispatched' his spy Susan Haskins to Chicago to report on The Last Ship?
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Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
NY Critics Lack of Respect
Posted: 8/20/14 at 02:24pm
At New York Stage & Film at Vassar each summer, dozens of shows are presented in some form to an audience - readings, workshops, modest productions. They are billed as works in progress, critics do not review them, and a safe place for development is maintained.

But why should a major production, at a major regional theatre, billed as a major part of their season, be treated as if it's a work in progress in need of a safe haven like the shows at New York Stage & Film? Even if a Broadway trajectory is implicit?

I do think that Brantley was unprofessional about Finding Neverland; publicly flouting the lead producer's request not to review, fixating on said producer's reputation, and then labeling the review as something else? It was catty and not constructive.

But positive notices from the NYTimes for regional productions have, as others have pointed out, been responsible for many acclaimed Broadway productions.

The old out-of-town system is completely gone. It's replaced, largely, with acclaimed regional transfers- in the past few years, ART particularly.



Updated On: 8/20/14 at 02:24 PM
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SonofRobbieJ
Broadway Legend
joined:12/10/09
NY Critics Lack of Respect
Posted: 8/20/14 at 02:36pm
If I remember HOT SEAT correctly, Rich was put off by the fact that the SPIDERWOMAN and Purchase was being labelled a developmental work but was charging close to Broadway prices. His review derailed the project for a bit, but work was done, including casting Chita Rivera in the lead role...something Rich specifically stated in his review.

I agree about the Brantley FINDING NEVERLAND 'review'. It was really bad form and speaks to a pettiness that has been creeping into his writing over the last few seasons. He should really step aside, but then we're left to the taste-free Isherwood.