Saturday, March 21, 2009

Question for CoM Readers

While I was reading the West Side Story reviews yesterday, I found myself wondering how much they matter for the production. The show was practically selling out in previews (it grossed $1,048,705 last week) and would probably continue to sell well no matter what the critics said. I know that I would see this show even if it got slammed (which it didn’t) just because it’s West Side Story on Broadway. It’s no big secret that reviews are more important for small shows that need word of mouth to succeed (Ruined was just extended for the third time and it has a grade of A-). All this is to say, I’m curious how you, Critic-O-Meter readers, use this site. Have you decided against seeing a show that you were planning on seeing because a low grade or vice versa?

7 comments:

CultureFuture said...

At the moment, I mostly use this blog to catch up on plays I'm never going to see, but am interested in. Will I see West Side Story? Probably not. But I'm interested to hear what people had to say about it.

Andrew Bauer said...

I only just happened upon your blog recently. I was researching how a particular design had been received within a cross section of reviewers. My usual sources are Time Out NY and the New York Times, which in my case, had been positive about the design; to my surprise, I found it had been panned by most other papers. Very interesting.

Anonymous said...

As much as I don't want it to make a difference, yes, I do take into account what critics say. However, there are shows that have been royally panned that I didn't find quite SO bad, and a few that got generally good notices that made me think, 'well, what show did I see?'

If I'm using the critics to help sway me, I tend to try to read a lot of reviews; eg, there's no one critic who I think has the final yay or nay when it comes to my taste.

C.L.J. said...

I run the South Florida Theatre Scene, where I have been collating snippets of the reviews, to give readers an overview of what's being said about the region's productions; often, the reviewers contradict each other.

My premise is that reviews should be more about exposing the show to the public than convincing patrons it's worth buying tickets to - or avoiding.

But I agree with Linda - some shows you should just see, because otherwise you won't have the experience of seeing them at all.

It's very rare that a bad production is really worse than no production at all.

Anonymous said...

The "grade" doesn't make much difference to me in deciding what to see. I appreciate how you summarize and provide critical consensus; indeed, I visit your blog regularly just to stay abreast of the theater scene. But the final grade doesn't influence me as much as the recommendation of a specific critic who I've come to respect, the recommendation of a friend, or familiarity with the artists involved. In fact, often I find myself drawn to plays with low grades, because they elicited mixed responses. For what it's worth...

Vance said...

I've definitely seen things because of good reviews and avoided because of bad, but it usually has to be a really bad review (or one with not a single good one) to convince me not to go. I think I tend to be more positive anyways so if I see at least one positive review, I'll go to see if I agree. On the other hand, I didn't think South Pac was all that great (but got overall A-) while I loved WSS (which you compiled as B-) so what do I know?

Linda said...

Thanks for the responses.
C.L.J.- I also found that reviews often contradict each other. That's how we end up with so many shows in the B- range. Sometimes I wonder whether the critics even saw the same show.
Vance- Occasionally I will see a show that gets all negative reviews, just to see if it's really that bad. I think the B- grade for West Side Story (which I still haven't seen) is still pretty positive, as most of the grades seemed to be in the B range, rather than all over the place.