About Performers 'Niceness'

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JohnPopa
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About Performers 'Niceness'#0
Posted: 12/3/03 at 11:48am
Folks, I understand that many of us have had many friendly and exciting encounters with many of the performers we discuss on these boards. It's part of Broadway's magic, after all, that we often get the chance to personally thank and meet the performers we like and admire.

But, it does frustrate me when people are trying to have a sensible conversation about the merits (or lack thereof) of a PERFORMANCE and someone insists on chiming in that the person is a nice and/or amazing person. That's all fine and dandy but, and I realize a lot of people can't understand this, a performance critique (even a negative one) is NOT a personal slight on a person. It's judging a work. Now, I'm not excusing insulting posts about performers that people pass off as critique because they're mentally incapable of having a discussion about theater above continually reiterating their primal reactions to something based on their own limited knowledge base and underdeveloped communication skills, that's entirely different (and frankly I think it should be seen as trolling and treated as such.)

I was under the impression the point of a message board was to discuss, not just to start a bunch of fan clubs. If you're incapable of handling even basic discussion about certain performers for whatever reason, please excuse yourself from reading those threads. It's more distracting to read 'but they're SOOOOOOOOO nice' every ten posts.

Look, these people are pros and a) aren't reading these posts and b) can certainly handle common discussion, especially civil and reasoned discussion, about their work. They do it themselves, just ask them sometime.

No one's saying anyone's a bad person, even if we hate them in a role.

Just food for thought next time anyone insists on pointing out how nice someone is when everyone else is trying to talk about a show and their theatrical experience.
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re: About Performers 'Niceness'#1
Posted: 12/3/03 at 12:17pm
While I wouldn't have put it quite that way, I have to say that I concur with JP. It's nice that they're nice, but so what? What happens in the proscenium is what counts.
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re: About Performers 'Niceness'#2
Posted: 12/3/03 at 12:29pm
I hear you big time.

I got into trouble recently for daring to say that I found John Ritter one of the biggest snoozes I'd ever seen on stage or (small) screen. His untimely passing provoked (appropriately) an outpouring of grief, and appreciation of his spirit, warmth, and Papa's word "niceness." He was one of the good guys. But as an actor/comedian, he bored me to tears, most recently in that dreary Simon play where he trundled out his bag of tricks --bewidlerment, fey amusement, archly voiced observations -- and I shocked people by saying I didn't think he'd ultimately be remembered for his body of work. Perhaps my timing was unseemly -- but it wasn't in an obit. His death made me stand back, evaluate. My prerogative. It was in an objective discussion, far from the eyes of his widow,etc.

A man's character may be above reproach. Fine. Niceness is a wonderful attribute. But neither are barometers for talent -- or even craft. Boards like this -- where critical faculties are allowed to flourish -- should be exempt from such rigid fan club-like standards.
"I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me." Garry Shandling
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re: re: About Performers 'Niceness'#3
Posted: 12/3/03 at 12:34pm
Even worse than that, Auggie, is when an untimely death causes one to be cannonized a 'genius'.

I mean...Chris Farley made me laugh a couple of times, but most of the times I found him to be overbearing and unfunny. But he dropped dead and BAM...the man's a GENIUS!
"I'm so looking forward to a time when all the Reagan Democrats are dead."
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re: re: About Performers 'Niceness'#4
Posted: 12/3/03 at 12:36pm
I believe a performer's PERFORMANCE is up for critique, but when someone personally attacks their work ethic or... issues (lets leave it at issues)... and they don't know first hand whats really going on, that's really not their place. I hate it more than anything when people sit around and debate performers work ethic... you don't know whats happening in their lives... as an audience member, its really not your business either. I mean, there are understudies for a REASON.

Hey, I critique a lot of actor's performances -- those whom I think are prolly the nicest people in the world (at least they've been nice to me in past encounters). It's just part of the profession... you have to look at things with a critical eye. No one is great 100% of the time... people get miscast and you have bad performances. It's just life. No one's perfect... not even Bernadette Peters... I know, shocking as that may be! Or Alice Ripley -- ack! Good ole Al has even had a bad performance or two in her day... it's sack relig... but sadly enough, true.
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re: re: re: About Performers 'Niceness'#5
Posted: 12/3/03 at 12:42pm
Turning the point around might be helpful.

There may well be extremely gifted performers who are real SOBs when not in front of the foot lights. Would one diminish their on-stage magic just because one couldn't abide them off-stage?

Bulldog.
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re: re: re: About Performers 'Niceness'#6
Posted: 12/3/03 at 12:44pm
But Daisy, work ethic comes into play when there are patterns of absenteeism. The Bernadette/Donna Murphy situations -- flu over a 2-3 week period, and then consistent showing up -- are very different from people who miss sporadically over a 6-9 month run. I'm sorry, when you sign up for 8 shows a week,that's the requirement of the job. Like 9 to 5 in a bank. If you're having onpoing health problems, voice issues, feet that hurt, or a significant other on the other coast -- please, don't take the gig. That's the work ethic of the working actor and working STAR -- particularly one on whose shoulders the box office squarely sits.
"I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me." Garry Shandling
Updated On: 12/3/03 at 12:44 PM
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re: re: re: About Performers 'Niceness'#7
Posted: 12/3/03 at 12:46pm
I pretty much agree w/ all of these comments, but would also respectfully suggest that when a fan is expressing grief over some favorite performer's death, that might not be the best or most appropriate time to engage in an objective discussion about that performer's relative merits. At any rate, you're not choosing the right partner for a productive discussion because that person is simply not objective at that time. It's funny but I just got into this very same discussion yesterday -- the question was if I could enjoy a show even though I detested a performer personally. I already have done so, so the answer was yes. Perhaps the simplest answer is for none of us to get so wrapped up in personalities of people we don't even know to even care whether they kick their dog. Just an added opinion.
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re: re: re: About Performers 'Niceness'#8
Posted: 12/3/03 at 12:50pm
I just posted about this very thing on the Kerry Butler thread ,so I won't be repetitive but to add, I have often been fervently chastised for saying that I feel "so and so" is *performing* terribly in a role. It's never about the person, it's about the performance that I and 1000's of others have just shelled out a hundred bucks to see. I don't want nor do I care if a performer is *nice*, I want/need them to be great in a role they were hired and paid handsomely to perform. I'm not going to dinner then home with these people, so I could care less how "nice" they are. If they stink on stage and performing is their JOB, I'm calling them on it. End of the story. And as for talking about a work ethic Daisy, there's no one who isn't put off by Benanti's *lack* of one. That's a whole different story.
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Right, but I think we should leave the "work ethic" debate up to those HIRING these people. If they're still being hired, it can't be as bad as rumored. I mean, rumors are rumors... unless you know the person, you don't really KNOW why they miss so why stress over it? It's their career... if they're talented, that's all that matters. If you know they have a bad track record, you don't go see a show FOR them... or go in knowing that there's a BIG possiblity they won't be there. I know people comment on Emily and Audra all the time, but people really act like they despise Laura for it. I don't know... personally, I think all three are ridiculously talented. I do worry about Emily's career, though... when David Hyde Pierce starts cracking jokes about you during a high profiled benefit, I think fear comes into play.
"You! You are the worst thing to happen to musical theatre since Andrew Lloyd Webber! And you, well, I just plain don't like you."
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When discussing talent vs. work ethic, and the effects a bad work ethic can have on a career, I have one name to throw out to you: Wanda Richert. Discuss amongst yourselves.
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Do tell!!!! I know she was 'let go' from the CHORUS LINE tour and then hired for 42nd STREET (wasn't she 'with' Mr. Champion during that show?).
"I'm so looking forward to a time when all the Reagan Democrats are dead."
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re: About Performers 'Niceness'#12
Posted: 12/3/03 at 1:07pm
i only want to agree with one thing..when anyone is critqued i noticed, not just here but in person..that someone always has to say ..oh but they are a nice person...so what..who cares if they are nice..they could be the nastiest human being in the world and be a great co-worker or artist or performer..i think its a defense mechanism cause most people cant take criticsim that is constructive..your point is very smart. congrats for saying it.
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re: re: About Performers 'Niceness'#13
Posted: 12/3/03 at 1:10pm
Yes, little Rob, Ms. Richert's story is one of the cautionary tales of Broadway. And I KNOW the details well. True details, sordid details, etc. I won't post them here, however...not the time or the place.
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re: re: re: About Performers 'Niceness'#14
Posted: 12/3/03 at 1:21pm
You tease you!
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re: re: re: About Performers 'Niceness'#15
Posted: 12/3/03 at 1:22pm
I would rather have a performer show up than be as nice as possible at the stage door. A performer's work ethic is part of their "niceness." A performer who consistently misses for reasons other than illness or serious family issues shows his/her contempt for the people who have paid to see him/her.

What really matters is the magic up there on the stage, but a performer's demeanor can influence how you respond or don't repond to what happens on the stage,
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Amen, Cmleidi. We've read your harrowing track record with understudies at this and other sites -- so you are uniquely qualified to have a strong opinion here! (Did you ever write the MILLIE producers about the elusive Ms. Foster?)
"I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me." Garry Shandling
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yeah, but how NICE is that hugh jackman guy?!?
XING
PED
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"I'm sorry, when you sign up for 8 shows a week, that's the requirement of the job. Like 9 to 5 in a bank. If you're having onpoing health problems, voice issues, feet that hurt, or a significant other on the other coast -- please, don't take the gig."

(applause)
I totally agree. I know I'm going to get yelled at for this, but the first actor that comes to mind is Nathan Lane. I know I'm not the only one worrying that after buying tickets, there still is a chance he may call out if you look at his track record from The Producers last time.
However, and I know from the people I've talked to through PM on here that I'm not alone on this, 112 performances is not a long run at all. And he is getting paid well above actors from any other show that I can think of. Does anyone else know any other actor that is making $12,500 per performance (not counting matthew!)?
After the whole ticket buying nightmare, if he starts calling out I think people are going to get very upset. You think you saw angry people on that ticket line? I can't imagine what will happen if he gets sick or whatever.
(formerly bronte604) "You really just love money and power and capitalism? You know they're never going to love you back." "Things happen for the best...I don't even believe that myself."
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"Hello? Mel? What's that exploding sound in the background, I can barely hear you. Broken glass? What? Mel!! Calm down! Whaddaya mean they have a riot squad in front of the Saint Ja...Oh,mmmm, YES, Carlos, that feels wonderful...Oh, nothing, Mel. Well, sweetheart, I can't help it if I threw my back out during last nights second act, and I know Brad will be fine...What? He's locked himself in his dressing room? He's afraid he'll be lynched? Oh geez, this new generation, they just aren't troupers are they...OH BABY YEAH! Oh, nothing (giggles) yes...that's my physical therapist I'm speaking to. Carlos, be an angel and give me some more champagne...huh? Oh, I was just asking him to relieve my back of some PAIN...um, yeah, baby! What a toungue you got..ummm...Mel, the connection is fuzzy, I can BARELY hear you... what are those sirens! Christ! Hello...Hello... Oh, ****. Mel got cut off. Now, Carlos, where WERE we....."
"Christ, Bette Davis?!?!"
Updated On: 12/3/03 at 02:57 PM
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I wrote to the producers of MILLIE as well as Ms. Foster, but I haven't received a response. I did receive an apology from Mr. Sunjata, but I received nothing from the producers of TMO or the theatre management at the Walter Kerr. I don't really expect to.

My sense from talking with some of them is that performers don't connect their missing performances with a ticket buyer being disappointed. They don't think there's anything wrong with excessive use of an understudy. I'm baffled by the nonchalant attitude. It does make me think less of certain performers.
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My final thought on this, Daisy: We have as much right to discuss the work ethic as "those who hire them" since my hundred bucks spent gives me a very valid perspective: a consumer's. Your sustained apologia for thier absences suggests a kind of co-dependence to these actors "issues" that I don't share.

The theater's history is full of anacdotal evidence re great stars performing under dire circumstances, flu, grief, even war. It used to be unacceptable to miss, by the way -- and the people who stood by for Merman, Martin et al didn't go on, or expect to (which gave Elaine Stritch a helluva story in her show) any more than audiences expected the stars to disappoint them. The tradition is alive and well -- in this past season, we've had perfect attendance from people as different as Harvey F. and Jane K, and even Antonio.

I love the way it's dealt with in ALL ABOUT EVE. "The show must go on?" "No, Margo must go on." I think that sums it up. There should be a healthy part of the diva or divo's ego -- having a narcissism that keeps them in the spotlight because they worked too hard get there to turn it over to somebody else.

Bronte: As for the telling comment above re Nathan, Brava! I remember how irked I was by the Lane Times Mag. piece. Here was a Tony winner at the peak of his career grumbling -- feeling sorry for himself! -- because his best broadway work didn't lead to a hit sitcom! His sense of entitlement -- now, he was gonna make some filthy lucre after all his work! -- made me wanna burn my copy of BIRDCAGE the way those red necks destroyed the Dixie Chick CDs (Well, no, I don't really have a DVD, but...)

If you see Broadway as means to an end, well, then I guess missing a show now and then doesn't matter much.
"I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me." Garry Shandling
Updated On: 12/3/03 at 03:46 PM
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re: About Performers 'Niceness'#22
Posted: 12/3/03 at 4:05pm
... "Look, these people are pros and a) aren't reading these posts and b) can certainly handle common discussion, especially civil and reasoned discussion, about their work. They do it themselves, just ask them sometime."

This is true... oh so true lol!, BUT... their opinions about each other are a little more qualifed because they personally know or work/worked with them as opposed to hearsay or brief stagedoor encounters or the " I have a friend who's knows a friend who works with so and so".

Unless a person has a relationship, business, friendship, casual or acquaintence with ANY other person...how can you know them?

Gossip's worth its weight in gold. LOL!
www.pbentertainmentinc.com BWW regional writer "Philadelphia/South Jersey"
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re: re: About Performers 'Niceness'#23
Posted: 12/3/03 at 10:02pm
"Your sustained apologia for thier absences suggests a kind of co-dependence to these actors "issues" that I don't share."


Well... I guess I can't look at the situation objectively, it's true... but I can empathize and I just think people shouldn't jump to conclusions or make snide remarks. It upsets me, but perhaps I'm a bit too bias to the situation to look at it from their perspective. Sure, it upsets me when I plan to go see Emily in something and she cancels like two days before or the day of, but why she isn't there isn't anyone's business but her own and the people who are employing her. I respect that and I just don't think people should be so fast to jump to conclusions and dub actors with no work ethic unless they are close to the situation. If you've worked with an actor and have first had knowledge of unprofessionalism, that's fine and you have right to comment... but for people to just go by rumor, I think it's ridiculous. To just make assumptions about people doesn't sit well with me. Like I said, maybe I just empathize on a different level then most people who pay and want to see who they paid to see. I just think that sometimes your personal life HAS to come first, as does your health, but why shouldn't you work if you're talented and people hire you? I don't think people actually take jobs expecting to miss so much... life just happens. Performers aren't super-human. You can't just expect MORE from them because of their career choice and because they're paid to entertain. First and foremost, they're people.

"You! You are the worst thing to happen to musical theatre since Andrew Lloyd Webber! And you, well, I just plain don't like you."
~Stewart Gilligan Griffin
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re: re: re: About Performers 'Niceness'#24
Posted: 12/3/03 at 10:15pm
"But they're sooooo nicee!!!"