Why Invite the Critics at All?

Seems to be working for the present production of Glengarry Glen Ross currently playing on Broadway. Check out this article by Charles Isherwood entitled  Theater Talkback: A Hot Ticket on Broadway, and a Cold Shoulder to Reviewers.

Seems that opening night with its traditional invite to critics was all set to happen and then Hurricane Sandy came knocking and everything got postponed. Was only supposed to be for a few days, but those days turned into SIX WEEKS and the show still hasn’t officially “opened”. And half the run is already done! And guess what? It is the hottest ticket on Broadway.

So who needs the freakin’ critics if this is the result of not inviting them?

Well, obviously this is is a somewhat unique situation, it’s Al Pacino’s return to a play he helped make great many years ago, but this time he’s taking on the role of the older salesman Shelly Levine, so that unto itself makes this show a hot ticket.

But will that change if the critics pan it?

Hard to say really.

Here’s Isherwood with some criticism of the  - er – lack of criticism:

I am not the only Broadway watcher to smell a rat in this highly unusual delay. Jeremy Gerard, the theater critic and editor for Bloomberg, decided to go ahead and file a review shortly after the show’s first announced opening date, reasoning that with orchestra tickets running $167 a pop (the top price is a staggering $377), it was in the public interest to allow theatergoers the benefit of some critical advice. (While praising some aspects, he said that over all the production was “stilted and self-conscious.”)


The decision to postpone was, in my view, a cynical move inspired by the knowledge that good critical notices couldn’t possibly make the show a hotter ticket — it was a hot ticket already — and while bad ones might slightly have dampened sales, more crucially, they might also put the actors in a bit of a funk.


I won’t be reviewing the show, by the way, so I don’t really have a dog in this fight. But it’s dispiriting that producers seem so determined to marginalize the voices of reviewers. Although artists and critics are hardly natural allies, a vigorous public discourse about theater — and that necessarily means an assessment of its quality — is vital to the health of the art form that supports them both. The “Glengarry” postponement moves Broadway one step closer to a state of celebrity-fueled decadence that may not be reversible.

I dunno. This strikes me as a case of tough titties or even sour grapes, or even sour titties, or tough grapes. Ahem. Kinda like a kid who doesn’t get to play with the toy that every other kid is already playing with. Isherwood and the rest of the critics just strike me as people who feel a little left out and denied their all powerful “scrutiny”.

As you know, I am a big proponent for professional criticism. I find it to be essential to the process on so many levels, but in this case, I dunno.

What say you, LemonHeads?

Are there parallels we could find here in Los Angeles? Are their big shows that could thrive with not of jot of professional theater criticism? How about the smaller shows?

Filed Under: colin mitchellFeaturedPonderings


Colin Mitchell About the Author: COLIN MITCHELL: Actor/Writer/Director/Producer/Father, award-winning playwright and screenwriter, Broadway veteran, Marvel comics scribe, Van Morrison disciple, Zen-Catholic, a proud U.S. Army Brat conceived in Scotland and born in Frankfurt, Germany, currently living in Los Angeles and doing his best to piss off as many people as possible.

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  1. kelly says:

    criticism in LA is shadowed by the short run of most BIG shows, so they are fueled by previews/marketing. criticism is more for press kits for the future…