Hey so I'm doing a feature piece on the preview process for a theater show and I was wondering those that have seen shows while in previews--why do you choose to see a piece while in previews, if you see the piece again after opening do you find yourself looking for any changes that might have been made from previews, how important (or unimportant) do you think the preview process is, and in general what are any thoughts you might have on the preview process.
I have only seen two shows in previews. The On The Town revival and Slave Play. I saw them in previews because it was the only opportunity I could see them. Normally, I don't like to see shows in previews, because I feel something may change once the show has opened. Although I would never know, unless someone tells me. I never go back to see a show after it opens, if I saw it in previews. I may see the show again, years later, but by then I wouldn't remember what was different.
I’ve seen a bunch of shows 30+ in previews and way more after opening. I don’t live in NYC, and like others have said, I don’t make a concerted effort to see shows in previews or don’t see shows until they open, I just see shows whenever I am in town and so it is random if a show happens to be in previews or not.In my opinion, the main difference is that no matter how good a show turns out to be, most shows in previews have an electricity or excitement in the air. You can feel the performers excitement that they are doing something new, and it is palpable. I still remember seeing one of the very first performances of Hamilton at the Public, and the energy in the air was amazing. I remember I was at one of the first previews of American Pscho and the energy was equally impressive.Be More Chill and Tuck Everlasting were some other recent shows that felt exciting with optimism in the air during their previews, but which did not end up doing well.After a show opens, and reviews start to come in, a show either develops a confident, smooth, well executed vibe, or it doesn’t. I’ve seen Hamilton so many times since its inception, it was interesting to feel the evolution of the show. That preview excitement evolved into a well executed, professional, cocky rhythm.So I guess what I am trying to say is that I like previews, because most shows, whether they turn out to be great shows with a long life span, or shows that falter and fail, are exciting and fun to attend during previews. If a show is doing really well, the feel of the show evolves to confidence and professionalism, and demand and ticket prices go up, which is no fun. If a show is not doing well, the vibe is certainly not fun or exciting. It is usually kind of uncomfortable and sad. Just my opinion.
I see a vast majority shows in previews just because I am always so anxious to see the new shows as soon as possible. If I like a show in previews, I will most likely go back after opening (or even during previews) to see it again. If I don't like a show in previews, I will usually not go back unless I heard changes were made during the preview process or if a replacement casting choice interests me.
I don't choose to go to previews- it just so happens that many of the shows I have seen are in previews when I venture to NYC. As someone else mentioned- during previews- the cast is really enthusiastic and putting there all into it getting ready for opening night. Although I cannot name a show that seemed sleepy to me because of too many performances- most performers have mastered the skill of seemingly keeping the show fresh and spontaneous- a preview performance almost guarantees a high level of energy and commitment to excellence.
As some others have said, I don't go out of my way to see shows in previews, but like bwayphreak, I find myself eager to see shows soon after they start, so I've seen a ton of shows in previews. Another reason I see a lot of previews is because sometimes there are special promotions early on - like Roundabout's Access10, Public's free 1st preview, Show-Score member nights, etc. In most cases, it doesn't really matter to me. I think it's very rare that a bad show can get fixed in previews. They may make improvements, but generally the core problems stay the same. I don't usually go back and see things again, but I can tell that the issues don't get fixed when reviews and audience word-of-mouth reflects the same criticisms I had in early previews. And in several cases, I've actually seen shows get ruined in the development process.One big exception for me was Shuffle Along. I saw the first preview, and while there was a lot that I liked, it was an absolute mess. And most other people I spoke to felt the same about early previews. But then they made drastic cuts, and everyone I know who saw the show after opening said it was phenomenal. It seemed like a rare case where they actually did fix the show. HOWEVER, in retrospect, I have the bragging rights of being able to say I saw all of that cut material. Brian Stokes Mitchell had an excellent solo number toward the end of the show, and I'm really glad I got to see it. One benefit of seeing a lot of previews is that I rarely see understudies. Nothing against understudies - I do actually enjoy seeing them if I go back to see a show again, or if I don't care about who I see in the role. But I am the kind of theatre-goer who frequently goes to see shows solely for certain actors, and I have a really good track record for actually getting to see them. I know some out-of-towners who see understudies on Broadway much more frequently than I do, even though I see way more shows. Because they aren't able to see these shows early in the run.
I guess I like seeing shows in previews because I like knowing that I'm seeing a show in what could be a very rough form. They could make a ton of changes during previews, so it's really cool to see the show in its original state. For example, I know I saw Waitress in previews, and then on opening night, and between those two dates they had added a number I THINK ("Club Knocked Up" didn't used to be there after "What Baking Can Do". Even casting can change--I haven't seen enough shows to know of specific examples for that, but I bet it has happened...right? If it's a show I'm really excited about seeing, I might try to purposefully see a first preview, but I don't normally do it. The only times I've seen a first preview I wasn't even aware of it (for example. when tick, tick BOOM! was at a theater on Theatre Row, I didn't know I saw the first preview). I THINK prices are generally a LITTLE bit lower in previews. When I saw Frozen, and when I saw Hadestown, both of my seats were what I considered reasonable for my budget. When I went back to see the price of those seats after opening, the prices had already gone up. So price is also a factor for me. I can't say there's a pattern to the dates that I buy my tickets for (during previews vs. after opening). Are you at all interested in buying tickets for opening nights, because I have been to two (Waitress and Bandstand).
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