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Do You Care About Reviews?

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by Les, May 12, 2016.

  1. Les

    Les Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    This is probably a question more suited for those who work part time in the community theatre/amateur theatre circuit. How do some of you feel when a show you worked on has been reviewed (either professionally or through your network of friends/acquaintances)? Especially negative reviews and opinions?

    I recently read a very neutral review about a show I LD'd on. Lighting was mentioned - overall well-received though the reviewer did have some issues with the skill of the followspot operators. As the way this facility operates, that portion is largely out of my hands so I don't feel one way or the other about it, but I have noticed a trend of this particular venue cranking out some mediocre shows lately (or at least the ones I've been called in on).

    Can be a little discouraging. What do you all think?
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2016
  2. TheaterEd

    TheaterEd Renaissance Man Fight Leukemia

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    They Mentioned Lighting in a review!!!!!! Amazing. I've LD'd for over 15 shows in a community theater that gets two reviews for every show and never once did they mention lighting! My crew did get a shout out the time I SM'd though.

    If their only complaint is a few errant follow spot pick ups, you have nothing to be discouraged about. Especially considering the review gave absolutely no constructive criticism, all it did was compliment your design and harass your (probably volunteer) spot-ops.

    As an actor, I did get a negative review once. It hurt for a little while but when I tried to take what I could from it as constructive criticism I realized that the parts that they didn't like about my performance were mostly out of my control. The next review liked me just fine, so that is the one that I hung on my bulletin board. It's important to remember that the reviewer is only one person.

    Here at the high school, we recently got reviewed for a high school award program. They sent five reviewers on two different nights to see the show and provide feedback. Most of the reviewers disagree with each other. One will say they liked this actresses vocal choices, the other will say that they thought she was to nasally and obnoxious. One complemented the character's growth throughout the show, the other said they didn't see enough of a change.

    Reviewers share their opinions and as we know opinions are like butts. Everyone has one, and most of them stink.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  3. microstar

    microstar Well-Known Member

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    Negative reviews are always discouraging to the participants, but you do have to remember that a review is always just ONE person's opinion.
    As such, they can point out flaws in the production unnoticed by others too. In community theatre productions, it's also the case that any publicity is good publicity (or something like that) .
     
  4. TheaterEd

    TheaterEd Renaissance Man Fight Leukemia

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  5. JChenault

    JChenault Well-Known Member

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    I still remember my favorite ( indirect ) lighting review. On opening night we had substantial control problems and lost half our dimmers. I repatched the board as the house was opening and busked the show as best I could. By the second night we had it all fixed and running as designed.

    The reviewer from opening night loved the show, but noted that the sets looked drab.
    The reviewer from the second night loved the show, especially how beautiful and vibrant the sets were.
     
  6. JohnD

    JohnD Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Overall it wasn't a bad review.
    Generally in smaller towns, the reviews are always fairly positive, the newspaper needs advertisers, and many involved in the community theater are frequently big advertisers.
    In the interest of snarky payback to the critic, I see he wasn't the A-team reviewer. Probably wanted to show off in a review for his clipping book.

    Then there is the variation for this overused saying:
    Those who can, do.
    Those who can't, teach.
    Those who can't teach become critics (or politicians).
     
  7. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Continuing the silly review theme. The last production I toured to Broadway loaded into the Shubert in late summer / early fall of 1990. The production was a musical entitled "The Buddy Holly Story". Three spots; lead in the booth. Other two op's provided by NYC's IA1 and physically located house left and right atop several sections of scaffold in box seating areas on their respective sides. Zero spot Q's for the first 45 minutes of act 1. First spot pickups as follows: Out of dead black; three bars of music play and all three spots simultaneously hit their picks. During the music an automated platform tracks DS stopping precisely on its mark as a tightly grouped trio of colored ladies step off the platform and immediately break three ways as they sing and dance their precisely choreographed moves. Our job was to initially pick them out of nowhere in shoulders up tight head shots, follow them accurately, expanding to 1/2 body shots as their choreography grew. All through preview weeks things went well improving nightly as we neared opening. The final preview, spots were superb. Opening night, the house-left spot op' was sound asleep on his stool. From my booth I could see he was essentially passed out. Both of us also on the 'spot channel' were screaming at him to no avail. Not wishing to bring this to the audience's attention, the house-left op' nailed the sleeping op' in his tight headshot without so much as disturbing 'sleeping beauty'. The music played, two of us nailed our picks leaving the third lady dancing in the dark until the LXQ began laying in the backlight when we were free to expand and cover the three as best we could with my front spot and one spot from the house-right side. The reviews were to giggle at. This was opening night. Nobody publishes reviews for final previews. Opening night reviews hit the streets with the next morning's sunrise touting the opening with ZERO mention of any spotlight errors. It was a busy week for Broadway reviewers and our reviewer had caught the final preview then based his published review of our opening on the only performance he's actually seen.
    Bottom line: Don't take published reviews too seriously.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     
  8. Amiers

    Amiers Lighting Phoenix 1 Lamp at a Time

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    Oh reviews...

    We get them all the time good, bad, and ugly. Everyone always has something to say. I will have to say though in the past 3 seasons I have been with this theatre it went from horrid reviews about this show to maybe a handful each season. Most now a days are about pricing or CSR issues.

    Honestly sometimes I like a good criticism of the show it's something I can build off of so the next person reading the review then comes to the show sees that there was an improvement on whatever was mentioned. Atleast in my department.
     
  9. dwardMICS

    dwardMICS Member

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    I'm never that concerned with reviews. As an educator, most of my reviews are very informal, family and faculty reviews. Those are always positive (go figure). When I get critical reviews, used to be through the National Youth Theatre, I tried to be objective. Educational theatre reviews are tricky because we're not professionals. I am more concerned with the growth of my students. If my students go from terrible to mediocre in a quarter, then I'm thrilled! The reviewer will can us, but at the end of the day, I care more about what my kids remember as adults that what someone else says.

    When I was in a higher stakes game, I loved never being mentioned. It meant we did our jobs. I looked for the language in the reviews which would basically talk about how it looked natural or didn't stick out. Now, when I get the annual, local Blumey judging, I look for the positives. I am my own worst critic in all that I do. It's heck for my wife!

    If your job depends on the reviews, then you have to take the very seriously. But I think most people are able to take reviews with a grain of salt, find the real good, and then figure out the areas you need to fix and improve as you grow as an artist.
     
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  10. Dionysus

    Dionysus Well-Known Member

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    Oh yes... REVUES *said like a dirty word*.

    I have a love/hate relationship with Revues. One of the biggest "loves" I have for revues is they generally greatly increase ticket sales I find, a lot of people generally don't buy tickets until after they've read the revue (a neutral or positive one). A bad revue can sometimes be rather damning, but not always. Unfortunately revues then become important as they really can effect your bottom line (be it in the newspaper, online, or word of mouth).

    Ive seen revues praise or boast things that really should not have been, aiding in inflated egos. Not fun to deal with.

    Rarely have I seen revues give constructive criticism, but I have seen it, and generally appreciate it even though the average reader would not.

    Generally things like Lighting and Audio are grossly ignored by most revuers (and some audience lol), when mentioned typically only in the negative, however occasionally not the case.

    What I really hate (but sometimes understand) is when a revue of the production IS NOT a revue of the actual production. Ive seen revues that hardly mention a thing about what was done on stage, performances, etc.

    Recently I worked on a community group production of Heathers The Musical and the first revue we got spent more time talking about the background of the show (movie to broadway) than anything else. The quality of our production was greatly "glanced over", however favorable. Many people rejoyced at the positive revue, but I thought it was EMPTY praise. However we did also get one "revue" that was not a revue that we welcomed as it was published well in advance of tech week http://stratfordfestivalreviews.com...and-why-you-should-see-the-musical-in-london/ This I would not call a revue, more a blog, but it really helped "advertise" the show (which sold out almost every performance, even oversold). Even though they listed the Costume designer (no costumes in photos, but the colours were right) but not the scenic designer or lighting designer (me), yes that annoyed me, mainly as a "why on earth mention her if not us?".

    There are a lot of these I really hate to read, sometimes I wonder how much they paid attention to the actual show, or who's ego they wanted to rub the right way.

    This is especially common with much word-of-mouth I hear sometimes, just seems off, not honest. Except for certain people who I have come to ask for opinions as I know they give honest and well observed opinions (even if their taste may at times differ from my own).
     
  11. themuzicman

    themuzicman Well-Known Member

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    At least for the last decade, no major commercial on or off-Broadway show in NYC reviews opening nights -- not sure if this holds true in 1990. Press is all invited a few days before opening night to 2 or 3 days of press performances. On good shows, demand is so high that producers don't want to burn seats for elites to a fancy opening night party. Reviewers can get prime seats, which otherwise wouldn't happen on an opening night.

    -----
    As for negative reviews impacting my life -- if the paycheck goes through on a professional show, I have no problems working on a show no matter how bad. As a designer, I don't like getting bad reviews and I've only been called out once in a review I did for a regional theater. I had creative differences with the producer and director, in the end I went with their ideas (never bite the hand that feeds). Those ideas were what was called out in the review, while it was my name attributed to it, I felt moderately vindicated.
     
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  12. dthomas32308

    dthomas32308 Member

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    I mainly do lighting for community theater and I've had a couple designs raved about by local reporters but have also had a couple completely slammed. It was hard at first but a mentor pushed me to redesign both the good and bad with would've made the shows review better as to always be learning and expanding my personal toolkit so I'm never an situation to need to know or have something not present.
     

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