Advertisement
Advertisement

Page: 1


Critics...How Relevant Are They?

hmpeterson Profile Photohmpeterson Profile Photo
hmpeterson
Featured Actor
joined:6/19/08
Featured Actor
joined:
6/19/08
Critics...How Relevant Are They?#1
Posted: 3/4/09 at 5:48pm
I know when I new show is out, I like to hear what our fellow BWW theater goers have to say about what they have seen. But I know we also anticipate what the "expert" critics have to say.

My question, do people put too much stock in what the critics have to say? I guess because I always seem to like what the critics hate and not like what the critics rave about/enjoy, I may have a skewed opinion on their "expertise" in what is or isn't good theater. And I know in all areas of entertainment, there are critics. But I just feel theater critics are different.

Not everyone can go to Broadway to see a show and it has a limited audience, as opposed to movies, (especially these days when the economic climate is so bad.) So if someone was coming to NY to see G&D or Hedda or whatever and the reviews are bad, maybe they won't come. Is that what the critics want to do, keep people from going to the theater? I mean they can be SO brutal in the review and in some cases actually tell people not to go see a show!!!

I know they have to be honest but I personally feel, they do more harm than good. I;d rather hear BWW posters views more than the "pros" because you usually get honesty but in most regards, it is respectful to what the cast and crew and production staffs have gone through to put on the production.

What do you guys think? Do you even care....ha!!!!
uncageg Profile Photouncageg Profile Photo
uncageg
Broadway Legend
joined:5/13/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
5/13/04
re: Critics...How Relevant Are They?#2
Posted: 3/4/09 at 5:55pm
There was a brief discussion about this on Theatre Talk. I agreed with them for the most part. They were saying that with all of the online chat rooms/boards, a lot of people don't pay as much attention to critics. People start posting about a show right from the 1st preview or out of town tryout and by the time a show opens and the reviews come out, a lot of people have already made up their minds as to whether they are going to see it or not. For me, I don't really listen to the critics. If it is a show I want to see, I will see it. I did that with Hot Feet. The critics and people here were right about that one!
Just give the world Love.
Weez Profile PhotoWeez Profile Photo
Weez
Broadway Legend
joined:9/16/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
9/16/05
re: Critics...How Relevant Are They?#2
Posted: 3/4/09 at 6:24pm
Depends on the critic. Nicholas de Jongh is a ghastly little man with no relevant opinions, but Michael Billington usually has a pretty good idea what he's talking about, and Paul Taylor and I have some very similar opinions at times.
dramamama611 Profile Photodramamama611 Profile Photo
dramamama611
Broadway Legend
joined:12/4/07
Broadway Legend
joined:
12/4/07
re: Critics...How Relevant Are They?#3
Posted: 3/4/09 at 6:52pm
If the only reason I'm coming to town is to see ONE show...I'd want it to be a good one and be forewarned about substandard ones.

I think a critcs job is to be honest. How could I trust his/word if I saw garbage time after time on their "nice" review?

Do I solely rely on critcs opinions...no. But if 90% of them are trashing a show, they are probably right. Same thing here: if it's more like 1/2 and 1/2 on opinions posted, anything is possible as to my own enjoyment.

I certainly wish that I had read reviews and opinions before seeing a number of shows....hoping that it would have kept me from seeing such atrocities as All Shook Up and The Story of My Life. (my apologies to those that enjoyed either show).

Do I want to buy a car without checking out Consumer Reports? Nope. It doesn't MAKE my decision, but it can help.
If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
Mr Roxy Profile PhotoMr Roxy Profile Photo
Mr Roxy
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Broadway Legend
joined:
5/17/03
re: Critics...How Relevant Are They?#4
Posted: 3/4/09 at 7:10pm
When a critic gives constructive criticism & will actually like a few show yes.

When they rip every show & start being nasty & attack people personally no.
Poster Emeritus
Mr Roxy Profile PhotoMr Roxy Profile Photo
Mr Roxy
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Broadway Legend
joined:
5/17/03
re: Critics...How Relevant Are They?#5
Posted: 3/4/09 at 7:10pm
When a critic gives constructive criticism & will actually like a few show yes.

When they rip every show & start being nasty & attack people personally no.
Poster Emeritus
PiraguaGuy2
Broadway Legend
joined:10/10/08
Broadway Legend
joined:
10/10/08
re: Critics...How Relevant Are They?#6
Posted: 3/4/09 at 7:13pm
As a rule, if the critics hate it, Mr Roxy will pay full price for it and love it!
Formerly SirNotAppearing - Joined 3/08
CATSNYrevival Profile PhotoCATSNYrevival Profile Photo
CATSNYrevival
Broadway Legend
joined:3/1/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
3/1/04
re: Critics...How Relevant Are They?#7
Posted: 3/4/09 at 8:00pm
I don't pay attention to what the critics have to say. Mostly because I tend to enjoy and find things that I like in everything that I see. I've never seen a show and not left like there was something magical happening on that stage. I focus on what I liked instead of what I didn't like so a critics opinion is pretty irrelevant. I agree that we need some sort of barometer for the general public, but it really bothers me that a lot of these critics seem hell bent on destroying an art form that they supposedly love.
CurtainPullDowner Profile PhotoCurtainPullDowner Profile Photo
CurtainPullDowner
Broadway Legend
joined:11/4/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
11/4/04
re: Critics...How Relevant Are They?#8
Posted: 3/4/09 at 8:22pm
The critics are only as relevant as the reader lets them be.
I read them because I am interested in Theatre, but I ususally form my own opinion.
The critics today are all over the place, Bentley for example can write a provocative serious review or he can write about himself and what he had for Dinner for 6 paragraphs.
Look at GUYS AND DULLS, It got scathing reviews for the most part, then you read one glowing and you think, what was he/she on that night?
frontrowcentre2 Profile Photofrontrowcentre2 Profile Photo
frontrowcentre2
Broadway Legend
joined:2/20/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
2/20/05
re: Critics...How Relevant Are They?#9
Posted: 3/4/09 at 8:53pm
The art of theatre criticism - and it is an art - is waning. Mainly because people do not understand the difference between critics and reviewers.

A reviewer should essentially be able to tell you whether the show is worth spending your hard earned dollars on or not and why.

Theatre critics are a different breed. They are there to write educated analysis of each play and point out specific flaws. The idea originally was to encourage the authors to avoid these same pitfalls in subsequent shows. Of course, much of this is highly subjective but good critics can write perceptively without alienating their readers. The last good critic the New York Times had was Frank Rich, and he burned out very quickly. It’s an occupational hazard of the job when you are faced with reviewing so much total drek.


Cast albums are NOT "soundtracks."
Live theatre does not use a "soundtrack." If it did, it wouldn't be live theatre!

I host a weekly one-hour radio program featuring cast album selections as well as songs by cabaret, jazz and theatre artists. The program, FRONT ROW CENTRE is heard Sundays 9 to 10 am and also Saturdays from 8 to 9 am (eastern times) on www.proudfm.com

CurtainPullDowner Profile PhotoCurtainPullDowner Profile Photo
CurtainPullDowner
Broadway Legend
joined:11/4/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
11/4/04
re: Critics...How Relevant Are They?#10
Posted: 3/4/09 at 9:09pm
Very good points FrontRow.

I once heard a critic speak, I don't remember who is was, who said, when he got the job he was thrilled but six months into the job, he wanted to kill himself.
Going to the theatre every night, sometimes twice a day, he got jaded very quickly and then it was like writing a school essay every day.
Being a critic for a big paper or magazine is slightly different because there are several of you and you can do one or two a week, but it is still grueling.
A Director
Broadway Legend
joined:12/18/07
Broadway Legend
joined:
12/18/07
re: Critics...How Relevant Are They?#11
Posted: 3/4/09 at 10:00pm
There are very few critics writing today who love and care about the theatre. I don't mean blind love. Go back and read Brooks Atkinson, John Mason Brown, Harold Clurman, Walter Kerr, Mel Gussow, to name just a few, to see what real criticism looks like. All of them cared about the theatre. Of course, they saw crap, but in many reviews they feel let down when a show isn't good.

Today, there are few critics who have any understanding of acting, designing or directing.

In programs, we read bios of the actors and production team. I have longed believed that newspapers should publish the background and qualifications of their critics.

As for posting on this Message Board, I take most of them with a grain of salt. At times, I would like to know the age of the poster.
TheCharleston Profile PhotoTheCharleston Profile Photo
TheCharleston
Broadway Legend
joined:12/18/08
Broadway Legend
joined:
12/18/08
re: Critics...How Relevant Are They?#12
Posted: 3/4/09 at 10:02pm
pretty f*cking relevant.
Elphie3 Profile PhotoElphie3 Profile Photo
Elphie3
Broadway Star
joined:8/12/04
Broadway Star
joined:
8/12/04
re: Critics...How Relevant Are They?#13
Posted: 3/4/09 at 10:47pm
You stole my thread! LOL!

:)
Madame Morrible: "So you take the chicken, now it must be a white chicken. The corpse can be any color. And that is the spell for lost luggage!" - The Yellow Brick Road Not Taken
Yankeefan007
Broadway Legend
joined:3/20/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
3/20/04
re: Critics...How Relevant Are They?#14
Posted: 3/4/09 at 10:57pm
This is going to sound very, VERY self-elevating, but for all intents and purposes, I consider myself a critic who loves and cares about the theater. I often think that I can write rings around people like Brantley and Isherwood and Dziemanowicz. Whether that's true or not is up for debate.

The primary problem with most critics is that they have no background in theater.

Brantley started life as a fashion critic - he was the editor of Women's Wear Daily for a long period of time, before jumping over to theater. Of course, through the years, he's grown more familiar with his subject. Only occasionally does he write cohesive, intelligent negative reviews. Most of the other times they're just catty, non-sensical babbling.

To be a critic - you have to understand how it all works. And once you do, then you can point out the flaws. Of course, critics think that they could do it better, but once they have, they've seen it's not as easy. Case in point, Nicholas de Jongh's new play that opened in London to poor reviews.

Clive Barnes and Frank Rich love the theater. Both were the most valuable critics. Ken Tynan, as well, wrote some lovely criticism, all of which is compiled in books. What we have today doesn't compare to the age of them.
frontrowcentre2 Profile Photofrontrowcentre2 Profile Photo
frontrowcentre2
Broadway Legend
joined:2/20/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
2/20/05
re: Critics...How Relevant Are They?#15
Posted: 3/4/09 at 11:28pm
I seconA Director's plea to have the people posting here state. (If not the actual age at least a range: Under 18, 18-25, 25-39, 40-death)

MARK
(Who is in the latter cetegory!)

Cast albums are NOT "soundtracks."
Live theatre does not use a "soundtrack." If it did, it wouldn't be live theatre!

I host a weekly one-hour radio program featuring cast album selections as well as songs by cabaret, jazz and theatre artists. The program, FRONT ROW CENTRE is heard Sundays 9 to 10 am and also Saturdays from 8 to 9 am (eastern times) on www.proudfm.com

CurtainPullDowner Profile PhotoCurtainPullDowner Profile Photo
CurtainPullDowner
Broadway Legend
joined:11/4/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
11/4/04
re: Critics...How Relevant Are They?#16
Posted: 3/4/09 at 11:56pm
If you can find Steven Suskin's book:
OPENING NIGHT ON BROADWAY
A Critical Quotebook of the Golden Era
of the Musical Theatre,
OKLAHOMA! (1943) to FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (1964)
Foreword by Carol Channing

It's excerpts from reviews for every Musical
in that time frame.
You will see that critics used to be a bit more constructive,
there are still some catty comments.
It's a fun read and great research.

YankeeFan, I enjoy your thoughts and opinions but I don't consider any of us here or on ALL THAT CHAT as reviewers.
Not that they know better than us but the real reviewers are the ones getting paid to attend the theatre and write a review for a newspaper or magazine.
The internet has certainly changed the climate of opinions of shows from invited dresses to closing nights.
But these are thoughts from Theatre lovers (myself included)
I get a little ticked when people on the board say:
I so glad this show is getting good reviews due to maybe two writers on this board.
The book I mentioned also has a section with the credits and facts about the reviewers in the book.
And I am 59 and have been performing or working backstage and attending Broadway since I was 12.

Updated On: 3/5/09 at 11:56 PM
hmpeterson Profile Photohmpeterson Profile Photo
hmpeterson
Featured Actor
joined:6/19/08
Featured Actor
joined:
6/19/08
re: Critics...How Relevant Are They?#17
Posted: 3/5/09 at 3:24pm
CurtainPullDowner: I hear what you are saying. And usually if I want to see a show, I don't care what someone else has to say about it because their theater experience and mine could be completely different. I just feel some of the critics take it a step too far in personally attacking the actors, producers, whomever. Instead of giving me the straight facts on a show, they feel the need to be too "witty" or too "clever" or just be a jerk if they don't like something. That's what bugs me.

Now someone brought up a good point, if everyone is saying the same thing about a show (like lately G&D) then they can't all be wrong....can they :)
Phantom of London Profile PhotoPhantom of London Profile Photo
Phantom of London
Broadway Legend
joined:3/26/08
Broadway Legend
joined:
3/26/08
re: Critics...How Relevant Are They?#18
Posted: 3/5/09 at 8:20pm
I guess standards in theatre is a lot higher than other forms of entertainment as the cost to watch is so high, I think critics sometimes have unrelenting standards!
bwaybabe2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/5/08
Broadway Legend
joined:
5/5/08
re: Critics...How Relevant Are They?#19
Posted: 3/6/09 at 4:33am
"Is that what the critics want to do, keep people from going to the theater?"
Well, it seems like it, doesn't it? Look what they did to "A Tale Of Two Cities", a show LOVED by so many (in Sarasota, sold out audiences, and in NYC, a strong fan base, which would have expanded had the show been given a real chance. A chance by the critics, as well as some who wanted to "make a statement" about what we know, by trashing the show so nobody would go see it...some people just have to do this, and spoil it for the rest =[

"When they rip every show & start being nasty & attack people personally no."
Mr Roxy...thanks for that statement! Agree profusely! Again, ATOTC comes to mind.

My take: I could care less what the critics say. I might read their "opinion" (remember, that is all it is, even if they are supposed to be "experts" in their field;I question their expertise, and rightly so---NOT everyone is good at what they do, in ANY field). If it is something that strikes my fancy of what I like, I go see it. Many a time, I have been pleasantly surprised with some shows that I went to see just to "have seen them" and be able to discuss.
Also, critics have good and bad days, like any of us, and they also have leanings towards certain materials (yes, I know they are supposed to remain unbiased in their opinion, but let's get real, does it really happen?).
Having said that, it is a shame that they actually DO influence the public as to what they go see. I like to do my homework about things before I undertake anything. However, informing themselves about what they might want to see on Broadway might not be on top of most people's list. They figure they will just read the "reviews" to determine which show to go see, especially if they can only afford 1 or 2 shows. To summon a similarity with Emily Dickinson's poem..."critics must be very careful".


nobodyhome Profile Photonobodyhome Profile Photo
nobodyhome
Broadway Legend
joined:4/19/06
Broadway Legend
joined:
4/19/06
re: Critics...How Relevant Are They?#20
Posted: 3/6/09 at 5:59am
"Having said that, it is a shame that they actually DO influence the public as to what they go see."

Gotta disagree, bwaybabe2. Look at a show like 1776. (There are tons of possible other examples.) Without the critics, that show would have closed in a week. Actually, that show probably would never have been produced unless the producers got some stars for it.

The critics have one very important function: to alert audiences to the good and great shows that don't sound promising on paper, that don't make lots of people immediately think, "I gotta see that show I gotta buy tickets!" Most shows can't wait around for word of mouth to kick in, especially if not enough people are even interested to provide much word of mouth.

Nowadays with internet chat boards, they have lost power, but still relatively few people read these boards and more people read the critics.

Have the critics been wrong sometimes? Of course. Is it frustrating when they're wrong? Very. But I've yet to hear of a better system. And they've been right more often than they've been wrong, though I can certainly point to a lot of shows that I thought deserved much better reviews, as well as to shows that I thought deserved much worse reviews.

I'm sorry, but I think one time they were right was A Tale of Two Cities. Despite cheering fans at many performances, I think audiences as a whole agreed. Look at the grosses. It ran seven weeks after the critics came. Grosses declined every week after the opening until the final week and even then the boost wasn't much. This strongly suggests word of mouth was not great.

Every show should be lucky enough to have producers as dedicated as those on that show. When they closed the show, it was less because of the critics than it was because audiences weren't growing. I think that if most people who saw it truly loved it and told people to go see it, there would not have been that steady decline. If there had been even a slight overall upturn or even steady business, it would have been a sign of hope, that word of mouth was having a positive effect and to hang on a bit longer.

I think even if reviews had been better, it would still have struggled at the box office.
dramamama611 Profile Photodramamama611 Profile Photo
dramamama611
Broadway Legend
joined:12/4/07
Broadway Legend
joined:
12/4/07
re: Critics...How Relevant Are They?#21
Posted: 3/6/09 at 6:06am
I haven't seen a single review that others haven't BOTH agreed and disagreed with. THe only thing a professional reviewer can do is write about his/her experience regardless of whether it is positive or negative.

I would suspect that the critics get letters EVERY week disputing their reviews: those that love a panned show as well as those that are disappointed with a show that was lauded. It's like a superintendent making a decision about a snow day....you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. It's not a critics job to make anyone happy...just to state their opinion.
If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
twogaab2
Broadway Star
joined:5/19/03
Broadway Star
joined:
5/19/03
re: Critics...How Relevant Are They?#22
Posted: 3/6/09 at 10:03am
There are no more critics-just reviewers. Any idiot with a keyboard and an opinion can review a show.

Just my opinion-I may be wrong.
TWOGAAB "A Class Act" will never die!




Advertisement