The Sunday Giveaway: 2 Tickets to ONCE on Broadway

Oooh, what a good giveaway we’ve got this week!

Fresh off it’s set of raves, Once has set the stage for one of my favorite things – a big David vs. Goliath type Tony Battle, where a small independent musical takes on a big behemoth (Newsies).  It’s going to be an exciting run-up to June 12th, that’s for sure.

One of the most interesting things about the reviews for Once, was the big ol’ wet sloppy kiss that Brantley gave it in the Times . . . because his Off-Broadway review wasn’t as glowing.  Big Ben adjusted his opininon (which made me have even more respect for the man-who-would-be-king), and said he got it wrong, and that Once was wonderful.  Luckily, the Producers were hell-bent on Broadway before reading his earlier review

Interestingly enough, last week we also saw Superstar open, which had received an earlier dismissal from Isherwood during its Canadian opening, and unfortunately for them, he didn’t change his mind.

Out of town or pre-opening reviews are tricky subjects for Producers.  Here are two examples of much different info provided by the critics for productions on their way in to Broadway.

As a Producer, how much would you pay attention to reviews of an out-of-town production or a pre-Broadway mounting?  Should critics even go to a show that is on its way?

Comment below with your thoughts and I’ll send one of you to Once!

 

(Got a comment? I love ’em, so comment below!  Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)

——

FUN STUFF:

– RSVP to the Shooting Crows reading in our studios!  Click here.

– Take a Broadway Road Trip from DC on 4/28.  Click here.

 

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Comments
  • Anthony G says:

    Once is filled with so much heart and soul. This entire company gives a powerhouse performance that won’t leave a dry eye in the house. The power and emotion in every single note sang will make your heart race and leave you inside the thrilling whirlwind of this love story! One word: incredible!

  • Sarah M says:

    I usually find it unfair when critics go to out of town tryouts- there’s a reason they do’t open in New York. But that said, if the critics go, the producers should probably listen when the reviews are bad.

  • I have mixed feelings about reviews. I think, as a producer, you need to read the out-of-town reviews. But then you need to be critical of them. For example, the case against Jesus Christ Superstar, is clearly a question of taste. I loved the show, and I think the production is brilliant. Isherwood doesn’t like it for being “too flashy” and he criticizes lyrics. This is a rock musical! It’s like a concert – people GO to this show FOR the flashiness, and lyrics don’t matter cause you can’t even really here them, nor do you expect to hear them. Everybody knows the basic plot, everything else is great entertainment.

  • Nick Minas says:

    It’s a tricky thing. Yes, reviewers should review out-of-town/pre-Broadway and yes producers should listen. However, there is also something to be said for a savvy producer having faith in the material. Sometimes you gotta know when to go with your gut.

  • Kim says:

    I think that you need to take all reviews with a grain of salt… as sometimes critics have different agendas. Although I do think they should all be taken into consideration, as sometimes you are too close to a project to be as objective as necessary.

  • Linda says:

    The advantage of out of town or off-Broadway reviews is that it lets producers know what should be changed before a show opens on Broadway, so yes, I think producers should pay attention.

  • Karlie says:

    I think pre-broadway reviews are important because it lets the producers and creative team know what’s not working before they get to the big stage. I think it would be silly for them to ignore what professional reviewers deem as problems in their shows when it’s the perfect opportunity to change it.

  • Allie says:

    Producers should look to these reviews to find things they can improve about the show. But, honestly, I don’t think it’s fair that shows are reviewed before they open on Broadway (assuming that’s where they will end up). If someone reads a bad review, it’s likely they will have a bad impression of the show regardless of the changes that are made before opening night on Broadway.

  • Jesse says:

    I mean…reviews are tricky in general. Often times a producer can deduce important feedback about the show depending on the specificity of the review. However, mediocre and bad reviews don’t always mean a flop (MAMMA MIA, WICKED). Reviews are important marketing tools for producers to use. But equally, if not more important, is word of mouth and quality of the show. If producers believe in the show and are passionate about the content, they can take what they want from a review and continue to develop it as they see fit!

  • Lexi says:

    Producers should take reviews with a grain of salt. The play or musical always changes (in each city, off-broadway, before it opens), so sometimes you have to believe in a product and keep going with it anyway.

  • Erin O says:

    For off-Broadway and out of town trials, I think ticket sales and audience response should me more indicative of Broadway profitability than reviews.

  • Norris says:

    I think about the debacle that was Spiderman the Musical and how much those early reviews and feedback on the blogosphere and chat rooms influenced the continual shaping and artistic choices/shuffling of the creative team that occurred. These early reviews can be objective and should be given fair consideration and merit. I know I psy attention to them – although if there’s something that I really want too see I’ll go despite mixed reviews to judge for myself.
    – Norris

  • Nicholas says:

    Most of the time I wish that critics would stick to their home turf; if something is out of town with its eyes on Broadway, let the local media review it.
    Whether or not to pay attention to critics is an individual matter. It’s not the role of the critic to advise. At base the critic’s job is to have an opinion; it doesn’t matter whether the opinion is tied to carping, constructive criticism, or praise—he gets paid anyway. Opinions can be helpful, whether they’re from a mentor or a critic, but ultimately decisions must belong to the participants.
    When reading reviews, producers should have a couple things in mind: is this member of the audience hearing the story we want to tell in the way we want to tell it? Does the rest of the audience?

  • Sam I Am says:

    I might be alone on this one, but I’ve always hated how much influence a critic has over the success of a show. I mean, someone goes to see a show under a particular – and very personal – set of circumstances, and his or her opinion can almost decide the fate of a piece of art that many people have invested their all into? I think we should do away with critics. A lot of the time their reviews aren’t even helpful. You might say reviews can also bring people in, but if a show is good indeed, people will come to see it no matter what critics say. I think we should let word of mouth and ticket sales speak for each show.

  • Jon says:

    If the New York/national press reviews your show out of town/off-Broadway, you invited them, and if there is an overwhelming consensus on something, it might need to be re-tooled. Superstar moved to Broadway on the strength of its reviews, the Times notwithstanding. The producers of Once knew they were transferring before opening night, but probably invited the press for publicity. Both are valid strategies. One benefit of pre-Broadway press reviews is access to press quotes for your initial ad campaign, which can be a big plus, especially if you aren’t already a strong brand.

  • Rebecca C says:

    Producers should definitely pay attention to reviews, but not necessarily abide by them 100%. But, I also think that local reviewers (if the show is a regional premiere that is moving to the Bway) would have incredibly valid points about the show as well. It’s not all about the NYC reviewers.

  • Rebecca L. says:

    Of course you should pay attention to reviews for pre-Broadway productions! Look at ONCE and Peter and the Starcatcher…both HUGE successes from NYTW and it is that success that will (hopefully) propel both shows to be huge successes on Broadway!

  • Sarah P. says:

    I think one should always pay attention to what people, especially well-informed critics, have to say about a production, especially during that pre-Broadway discovery period when some constructive criticism can be especially valuable…but as always, this should be tempered by a belief in one’s show and vision for the show, regardless of individual opinions. It’s always about crafting the best possible art that can also be hopefully appreciated by an audience as well. As for whether critics should go, well, that’s their prerogative; I understand the duty to one’s readers to report on something that is in fact charging for tickets (including Spider-Man 1.0 in its endless previews!)…I don’t think it can ever be stopped, anyway.

  • Keith M. says:

    I think the attendance of critics to pre-Broadway shows is something said shows should hope for. If an out-of-town production is thrilling audiences enough that they have already announced the big move to broadway, critics’ reviews are a great source of advice. Shows can take what critics say and, in the case of Once, use it to bring a better show to Broadway. Unfortunately, a show like Jesus Christ Superstar, may not end up making up for their previous woes and will be subject to what the same critics who were displeased initially will have to say. These two-fer negative reviews could and probably will make the difference between a long-run and short-run show. So, do I think critics should attend pre-Broadway productions? Absolutely. So that shows, like Once, can bring a better show to Broadway.

  • Tom G says:

    Reviews are one person’s opinion and nothing should be changed because of it. The out of town audience response should be what adds, tweaks or cuts the performance. You can tell a lot from the back of the theater how the audience likes the show.

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  • Becca P says:

    Reviews are a tricky subject. On the one hand, if the show isn’t reaching people, you need to know so that you can perhaps try to improve it for the next version. On the other hand, reviews are one person’s opinion on one evening’s performance. I think reviews should be read, but taken with a grain of salt, because as theatrical artists, we often take criticism too much to heart. The best thing to do is to take bad reviews and use them to help the show become better than it was. Let them inspire you to make changes, cuts, and additions. Find the story moments that needed more clarity.
    In short, make lemonade.

  • Meredith says:

    It’s out of town because it’s getting ready for NY — in other words, it’s not ready yet. You wouldn’t judge a 12 year old on what you think he’ll be when he’s 30. That’s just not fair. Sometimes that 12 year old is as mature as a 30 year old, and sometimes he needs a little more time to grow.
    Critics need to give productions time to grow. Out of town productions are local to a different region with a regional audience. That audience needs to know whether it’s worth seeing or not, so regional reviews are necessary and appropriate. But a NY review for a production happening in Minneapolis is not a fair review, as it prejudices the audience (for good or bad) before the production is ready. If the NYT had reviewed My Fair Lady out of town, the show would have bombed before it ever made it to New York. Critics need to meet the productions on their own level.

  • Becca says:

    Reviews don’t tell you if a show is “good” or even if it’s “ready for New York” (whatever THAT means). What they tell you is what people see when they look at your show. If you’re going to be mounting another production (on Broadway, or not), then reviews give you a chance to see how what you think your show is saying is different from what people are hearing. Then you can decide how to close that gap, and how long it will take you to do so. Not to make a show the critics will like, but to make the show you wanted to make.

  • Jackie says:

    I would love to see this show! I had the great opportunity to seemarketa at joe’s pub. I’ve been eager for more.

  • DJK says:

    On the one hand, “out of town” tryouts and pre-broadway is meant, ideally, to be a time to develop and polish a show, so the reviews will not necessarily reflect a final product- producers, in an ideal world, would look to reviews to see if the growing kernel of the show holds promise for further growth. On other hand, “out of town” and pre-broadways tryouts aren’t put up free of charge on the audience side of things- people are paying money to see these shows. And if people are seeing money to see these shows, it would be the responsibility of the critic- at a certain point- to let people know what it is they’re paying for.

  • Out-of-town tryouts are essential roadmaps for producers, I feel. The more a producer can learn about a show and gauge audience reaction of any kind, no matter where the show is trying out, the more insight one has for their show. New York critics can be vultures and it’s always a slippery slope where critics are involved with any production at any stage of that production. However, it all has to be taken in stride. Producers should also have a wealth of confidence in their production and belief that what they have is truly something special and unique. They must also possess the need to share that gift of a show with the world. “I love this show SO much and believe in this show SO much and I think you will too.” That’s the essential attitude they should have. In terms of producers coming to out-of-town tryouts, whether we agree and like it or not, it is what it is in our current day and age of commercial theatre. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc…We have to embrace it. The only thing we can do is put on the best show possible.

  • Michael DiGaetano says:

    Reviewing a show pre-NYC is like saying for sure which team will win the world series the second week of spring training. This may be bold (or not) but maybe reviewers should be invited as guests to an out of town tryout performance, maybe half way thru the run, and then give them a round table with the creative team later to hear their thoughts with the guarantee they won’t review the show until NYC. SOme of their input might actually be good, and there’s no rule that says anyone has to listen to their suggestions. We do this in TV all the time. NOw if they see their ideas weren’t incorporated during the Broadway run and they trash the show, they probably were going to anyway.

  • Taylor says:

    I do not have a problem with critics reviewing out of town productions. After all, the review does not always reflect the quality and/or success of a show. Personally I believe that critics should read all reviews and be aware of audience reactions.

  • Samantha says:

    I see the pre-NYC reviews as ways to improve upon the production. Obviously they would be taken with a grain of salt, but reviews would provide outside insight into the production and give ideas on ways it could be better, especially in preparation for the Broadway review when that time comes.

  • Andrew B. says:

    I say producers should listen to critics with a grain of pepper. Critics can go to an out-of-town review if they want…they can go to a Broadway show if they want…but none of it matters compared to the public. Who deemed them critics anyway? If anyone’s gonna criticize anything, they should be deemed experts first. When Audra MacDonald retires, she can write reviews. When Nathan Lane retires, he can write reviews. Not people who’ve never performed on the stage before….at least outside of their high school stage. Critics are over-rated. (Pun intentional.) 🙂 Can’t wait to see Once!!

  • Theater is a collaborative process. The audience and the critics in it are the most important collaborators. Be open to them and allow the process to work it’s magic. If you’re open, humble and completely dedicated to entertaining and enlightening an audience, it will only make you and your work better.

  • Michelle says:

    This is obviously a tough question. I’m inclined to say that critics should avoid out-of-town previews, just as they don’t publish reviews of shows on Broadway until after its preview period is over. But out-of-town reviews can help create important buzz for a show. Whichever way you look at it, it’s a tricky line.

  • Randy H says:

    There is, of course, an informal agreement already that NY critics should not review shows out of town. That is not subject to opinion. There is, of course,
    the common complaint that critics are subjective, with their own prejudices about what constitutes quality that is inevitably at odds with often most of the theatre-going public. That, too is not new. What I
    object to is the reviews by Isherwood and Brantley of
    musicals, where they literally spend 5% of their text on the music and 90% of it on the book. This is ridiculous for a musical, where one could argue it
    should at least by 50/50 coverage. The reason it’s not is that these reviewers were English majors and don’t know squat about music, so they focus on what they know, to the detriment of a balanced review.

  • Eric Satisky says:

    I think critics should go and you (producer) should pay attention HOWEVER, you can’t judge something fairly without it being done for good. If anything maybe it would open producer’s eyes to something that they may have missed while being so engulfed in the show. I guess I’d mind them some attention and may look into something if they point it out but in the end, theatre is art and when it’s my piece of art I would want it to be what I want and hope the public enjoys it for what it is.

  • I don’t think NY critics should be reviewing out of town tryouts of Broadway bound shows for …at least…2 reasons. One is that often the show will change before it arrives on Broadway. That’s the whole point of the out of town tryout…to work out the problems. Secondly, it gives people a pre-conceived idea of a show before they’ve had a chance to see it with possibly positive changes, thus possibly hurting a show’s chances on Broadway when it might be a better show now. And by the way…I’m obsessed with the movie “Once” and would love to see this on stage!

  • Alex says:

    I think producers should view out-of-town reviews as feedback to improve their shows, but if reviews are bad, producers shouldn’t necessarily be discouraged about moving their show onward. I think that one of the reasons for an out-of-town tryout is to gauge the reaction to the material being produced, and because of this, when critics review out-of-town tryouts, they are helping the producers determine the potential success of their show.

  • Liz Wollman says:

    I change my mind about stuff like this every day.
    An aside: I decided that I was going to go on strike this season, and not see any live productions that were based on films. I saw the movie “Once,” and liked it, but despite the glowing reviews and word-of-mouth, just can’t muster the energy to buy a ticket for it. Because, you know, it was a film. So frankly, if you were to select me for this particular giveaway, you’d be helping me with my own philosophical question: Should I go see this show even though I have already seen it as a film? Or should I stick with my personal strike against musicals that were films? Help a scholar out, Ken!

  • RC says:

    As a theater-goer I try to see most of the shows that open on Broadway and I do not read reviews until after I have seen the show. If I were a producer, I would have to pay some attention to pre-Broadway reviews as a source of some at least partially objective opinions that could provide insight into something in the show that may be improved upon.

  • I think if you really allow this process to work, there’s no need to take anything with a grain of salt because the work will begin to find its true spot. When you reach that true spot, and it may take years of re-writing, you are home free because everyone involved has lost themselves entirely in letting the core essence of the show resonate through the millions of details you created together. And the audience was there with you the whole time shaping that. If you do this, you don’t have to worry about out of town reviews.

  • San D says:

    I think every once in awhile you have to step away to see the big picture. If out of town reviews help you to be more objective, so be it.

  • Brittany says:

    The extent to which producers listen to reviews is totally at their discretion, but it’s probably worth taking a peek. Lodged between those hearty opinions, there might be a useful piece of information about how the show could be improved or marketed more wisely.
    It’s important to consider, however, that shows with unfavorable reviews sometimes receive amazing response from the public. Paying attention to what people on the street are saying might prove to be just as useful.
    I don’t know if NYC critics have any real reason to write about shows during their out-of-town runs, but at least the creative teams can get a professional opinion about their work if they seek it.
    Overall, it’s interesting to consider that what should be a safe period to test and fine-tune new material has become an intense preliminary test for Broadway-worthiness.

  • Lindsay B says:

    The primary goal of reviews is to get people talking because even a negative review (I’m talking about you Spiderman) will attract audiences curious to see what has everyone in a tizzy. It’s almost worse to have a positive(ly) bland review that most will glaze over. So producers cannot live or die by the reviews, but be smart when creating the marketing campaign and have faith that the writers will create a solid product in the end.

  • Demi Agapitos says:

    I feel that producers should read reviews of an out-of-town production or a pre-Broadway mounting, but not rely on what they say. It should just give them the idea in which direction the show is heading because it obviously would not be exactly the same once it hits broadway. They should keep in mind some criticisms the reviews say, but also keep in mind that it cannot influence them on their own opinion. Producers should only go to an out-of-town production or a pre-Broadway mounting if they know they can keep an open mind. As I said when a show is moved it is never exactly the same and seeing the show in previews or out-of-town should give the producer an idea how how the show will come out and where they are heading with it and parts where they need to improve because there is always room for improvement.

  • EllenFD says:

    Let’s face it–with the likes of Michael Riedel and his “spies,” not to mention the ubiquitous amateur bloggers out there–producers are always going to know what certain people think of their show, even well before it’s ready for Broadway, which is not fair at all. But whether they sample a bit of opinion or devour it, it should be taken with that proverbial grain of salt. As William Goldman put it in his book THE SEASON, “nobody knows anything.” Remember when Riedel prematurely announced the imminent demise of AVENUE Q and WICKED? Producers should keep their focus on a consistent vision and adapt as they see fit.

  • Michael says:

    I’ll take one ticket, please.
    M

  • Mary Ann says:

    Any time you are making a decision, you need to gather all the available information you can get your hands on. But you also need to be wise enough to filter out the noise, and ultimately, to trust your gut. Does it feel like a hit to you? Then use your information wisely, tweak the show where you must, and go for it.

  • Emily says:

    I would pay a lot of attention to them. Take the comments under consideration and use it as constructive criticism o make your show better. The broadway reviewers are just Oing to be tougher, and if we want the show to sell out, we need their stamp of approval (in most cases).

  • broadwaybrian says:

    The question is really, “how much influence do out-of-town reviews have on audience expectations?”. If all of the critics say something similar , the creative team should listen! Addams Family got nearly identical reviews in and out of town. Wicked listened to the critics, and audiences, after San Francisco and brought a huge hit to NY.

  • Margie says:

    If a show is playing out of town, critics have the right to review it prior to Broadway — after all, they need local ink. But, when reading the review, producers have the right to take what they want and leave the rest. There might be one little gem worth listening to — but producers shouldn’t take their word as gospel.

  • Dan Roeder says:

    1) Well, as a producer, I’d be more inclined to take on modern dramatic musicals than I would musical revues, etc.. Critical reviews primarily speak more to classically structured, plot-driven pieces where “the play is the thing”. So if a critic says your production lacks, it’s probably indicating that something isn’t clear in the narrative, or it’s not well-structured. Most critics understand structure and can see where shows fail, but don’t speak to large audience bases and can’t account for the pre-existing fan bases and expectations that lead non-typical theatre audiences to the theatre.
    So I, personally as a producer of contemporary drama, would be liable to pay attention to the reviews and plan future production life/edits to the piece accordingly. However, if I were producing a revue of Beatles songs, I’d say bombs away. Even if I were a Disney producer, though, I would veer on the side of caution because Disney pieces are typically driven by both spectacle and plot, and the reviews would give me perspective.
    2) As a theatre artist, I’d say you should always leave yourself room for criticism- it’s healthy! Hiding your work from scrutiny doesn’t do it any good. Water meets its own level, but I think out-of-town critics are a safe-guard against schlocky money-orgies breaking the city limits (that’s the most Republican I’ve ever sounded…

  • Kate who would really really like to see Once says:

    I think it’s a good thing that critics write about shows early on. It gives the creative team and producers a chance to look at the problems on a show in development which are usually pointed out by the writers. Also, I’m a firm believer that all publicity is good, hate to say it, but look at Spider Man. The rants and raves of the press just made the public want to see it more. Now do I feel that critics need to slam a show in development,no, not at all. Critics should be like a good college professor; helpful, encouraging & insightful. Let’s face it, to get a show on it’s feet takes incredible energy, skill and hard work- which should be reason enough for a critic to be respectful when dealing with such an incredible birth.

  • J.S. Fauquet says:

    I think that they should listen but also be aware that an out of town tryout is a chance for the show to develop and grow. Not giving something a chance because of its out of town reviews might be pulling the plug on something in the middle of its artistic process.

  • Bruce says:

    Everyone has already said it. Of course you pay attention to out of town reviews. Critics should be invited to out of town, pre Broadway mountings. And just like with any critic, the review is just one person’s opinion. The more feedback you can get, the better. Another idea might be to interview the out of town audiences for their feedback. And NYC preview audiences as well. Not with written questions. But sit down with them and listen to what they have to say. That would be a lot more feedback.

  • Kimothy says:

    Producers need to do their jobs and critics do theirs. That being said, producers have to raise such incredibly large amounts of money to finance a show on Broadway that it seems impossible to not feel as if they look to every indidual opinion of their product in an effort to figure out what will be a profitable hit. The true producer understands the business of show business but more importantly has the passion of an artist to choose properties they believe in and then assemble the best group of “creatives” to bring that material to life in a theater. That passion and vision is rarely served by the opinion of a “critic” and “critics” today are only writing their opinion of shows…few even pretend to write true dramatic criticism. As for the NY Times reviewing shows out-of-town before they even get to NY…that is ridiculous! Out of town tryouts or engagements are for the purpose of working on the show for it’s Broadway presentation…not for the NY Times to get to review the show BEFORE it is ready for Broadway.

  • Caitlin C says:

    While it would be a shame for producers to halt or alter plans because of critics’ comments before a show officially hits Broadway. But if the opinions are out there, it seems prudent to peruse them and know what’s being said!
    As a former study abroad student in Ireland, I am dying to get to see “Once!” Never made it to the off-broadway iteration, so am very excited that the show’s producer plowed ahead and brought it to the big-time!

  • A. Levy-Sisk says:

    I direct HS students in a statewide competitive festival. I know directors that change EVERTHING the judges suggest. Me? I read the comments, THINK about what has been said, and make adjustments that I feel fit into my vision and intent. Lots of it I ignore — or I try to figure out what we are doing that gives an altogether wrong impression.
    Critics (or judges) can be helpful early on — why not LISTEN and then decide what helps.

  • Hannah says:

    One of the reasons for an out-of-town/off-off Broadway trial is to find out about audience reactions. A production has an pre-Broadway run to see what works and what doesn’t. Reviews for the show are a way to find out. They have to play a part in the decision of how far to take the show.
    That being said, reviews are just the opinion of the critic writing. A show may have a life without good reviews both off and on Broadway (ie Spiderman). The point of a commercial run is to make money and if the reviews aren’t flattering but the show sells out every night, that is also something to take into consideration. Sometimes the audience for a show is not going to be the critics.

  • Molly says:

    I think reviews in pre-Broadway stage are good to some extent. They can discuss what worked, what didn’t, so then those things can be adjusted before the Broadway run. However, a review will influence the audience’s reaction to the show and I think that’s where they aren’t so good.

  • Maura K says:

    As a producer it’s your job to look at everything-check out the reviews, listen to critics out of town etc but weigh the odds. Don’t go changing everything just ask the question- does it make the story better? Is what everyone’s saying valid? etc Very often off-broadway shows that moved to Broadway don’t work ’cause they needed a more intimate venue so subtlety gets lost and so does a little magic. But.. look at Million Dollar Quartet – I think it’s better smaller.
    But…. ONCE– I absolutely have to see it and I don’t care what anyone thinks. As a consumer I will see it because I LOVED the movie and I loved the couple’s relationship and I LOVED that song. That’s really the the first reason for my wanting to see this before I even heard it was great. I read B. Brantley’s review early Monday am.
    It was on the TKTS board the week before it opened but I couldn’t go. My friend worked the opening party at Gotham Hall. I texted him franctically on and off to see if he saw the 2 composers there and what they were doing.
    Anyway, producers should always see if they can make a better play but should make sure along with the creators that their original vision doesn’t get all blurry.
    Thanks.

  • Bryan Austermann says:

    I think that reviews by critics of shows when they are out of town can be a useful thing in helping a show come together in the best way possible. These shows are looking to please these same people a few months down the road, so why not listen to what they have to say earlier in the process when the critics opinion won’t make or break your show the way it can in New York.
    Then again, there are shows that get trashed both out of town and in New York and go on to respectable runs (The Addams Family being a good example) Though, with that example, I think serious changes were made from Chicago to Broadway with that show, and I think that’s because of the critical opinions that were shared. From what I heard, audiences loved it in Chicago, and they certainly loved it here, so the critics can help mold a show without changing it so much that the audiences feel differently about it.
    Also, if the major critics are talking about your show long before it gets to Broadway, whether they think it’s good or bad, those who follow them are going to be interested and paying attention when your show does arrive in New York.
    I say go for it. Let them come. Listen to what they say. Take it or leave it from there.

  • Nick Leshi says:

    I went to see JC Superstar and thought it was phenomenal. I had heard all the hype from its Canadian run and it’s L.A. run, and in my opinion, it lived up to the hype. Depending on the production, I think a critic has an obligation to see a show that’s generating buzz even if it’s outside NY, because when it does eventually come to Broadway, folks like me usually look up reviews and don’t want to wait until opening night to read about what the critics think. (Of course I always have to see it to judge for myself.)

  • Marybeth says:

    Reviews are important, but in today’s theatre landscape, I think they’re no longer the most important thing for filling seats. A producer should know who their show will appeal to. I honestly don’t think there’s really such a thing as a universally appealing show, and reviews should take that into account.

  • Andre says:

    I find that the whole ‘review’ process is a bit odd in that critics do not seem to be able to voice their opinions at all until a show has officially opened. I would be happy to hear from critics before a show opened, especially if they had an open mind to further revisions. So for out of town versions I would say fine, review them, and then feel free to comment on previews and review the show again once it opened. Having critics talk more about the evolution of a show would actually be very interesting.

  • Amanda says:

    Critics should review out of town tryouts because every bit of feedback can help a production move toward the best possible production – from a pan to a rave, from La Jolla to Paper Mill. However, people should take out of town feedback with a grain of salt because a production at Goodspeed in quaint Connecticut might get a different reception because of the area, demographics that go to the theater there, etc. – so something hated or loved out-of-town might be the reverse on Broadway. I think it’s more about being open to others but ultimately following your instincts and heart and what path the production organically follows.

  • John Sweeney says:

    Reviews are certainly improtant, but are they really as influential as people think? After all, many shows receive poor reviews and are still successful….I think it depends on whether or not the audience is engaged. THEY’RE the ones buying tickets!
    Of course, anything that gets raves out-of-town is certainly worthy of a look, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be a hit somewhere else; take Coram Boy, for example. It was a success for the NT in London and then it flopped badly here in New York.
    Critics’ reviews are fine if you realize it’s just one person’s opinion. You should always decide for yourself.

  • Maria says:

    I believe that pre-Broadway reviews are useful, especially when it comes to casting. If there is a consensus that a specific actor is not being well-received, it might be helpful information to the producers, as the strength of the cast can significantly impact both the show and the advertisement.

  • Dan says:

    The thing is, a lot of times shows don’t know they are Broadway-bound until they get those glowing reviews. Or at least, the question of a future, larger production is very much uncertain. You use Once and JSC as two examples, but I think in both cases, a Broadway run was by no means guaranteed, or even a strong possibility, until the initial off-Bway/out-of-town production was well received. (Sure, Brantley didn’t love Once initially, but other people did.) Critics are always going to review out-of-town shows, and I think that is a good thing, no matter the show’s potential future. A smart creative team will use the feedback in the reviews just as they would use feedback from their audiences- as one element in figuring out how to improve the show.

  • Ray says:

    I’m making two trips to NYC in May and this show is on my list to see, partly because I like supporting anything that makes the transition from Off-Broadway to Broadway (and what a great write-up of the Broadway version in the NYTimes!). Thanks for not only promoting specific shows, but all of Broadway (and all of theater) with your blog!

  • Kristin D. says:

    I think it’s important for critics to review out of town shows. I think those reviews can help producers receive feedback on what is/isn’t working in the production. In addition, they can spark potential audience interest, both in the show’s out of town run and future life.

  • Jason says:

    It’s up to the producers of the show whether they want to read it out or not. If they believe what they have is ready for Broadway then they can ignore the reviews but if they are willing to receive constructive criticism and realize their show may not be quite there yet, they can see if any of the reviews may point them in the right direction.
    I think it is alright for Critics to review out of town shows, everyone has the right to get to know what they are getting into before they buy a high priced ticket to a show. Sure, if there are tons of negative reviews, it may hurt the sales of your show, but honestly, I think those usually do more for sales than just a “good” review. (you know people love to watch train wrecks!)

  • Tricia Ostermann says:

    I think one would have to take reviews with a grain of salt. Reviews are based on one person’s perspective, and that may be very different from another’s. A show out-of-town or off-Broadway may also be limited in space and funding and is constantly changing.
    I think the most important aspect of a show thinking of going to Broadway is the reaction of the audience. The response of hundreds of people is more important than the response of one.
    Look at Addams’ Family, for example. The critics loathed it, but the tourists loved it. You just never know.

  • Hubert Hsu says:

    That’s why I like taking a look at a group of critics vs just one, though it’s interesting to note that JCS got almost unanimously great reviews both in Canada and La Jolla and then got mixed reviews in NYC. Are NYC reviewers just harsher, or did the show get lost on the bigger Neil Simon stage?
    Also interesting to see Ben actually change his mind about Once (to join the rest of the raves that already existed). (BTW, I would LOVE to see it on Broadway!)

  • Miriam says:

    I think out-of-town trials are important and necessary for mounting a show on Broadway. Sometimes, in cases like WONDERLAND, the producers should listen a bit more to the reviews. It’s a great concept for a musical, but it didn’t flow well and needed more time in front of critics who could’ve helped it get to where it made sense to a broad audience.
    New York audiences (and people in general) are the hardest and most critical, so what is said outside of the city isn’t 100% of what will/won’t work in Manhattan and on Broadway, so some critiques can be discarded, but it is always important for growth and success to take advice from whatever audience is in front of you.

  • brian says:

    I think that out of town try outs are definitely important to the development of a show. I think that if a critic wants to go see it that they should and should review it knowing that it is in the process of being worked on. It is a full production either way so if they hate it out of town, it may develop into something they like. It really can go either way, but I think that it is up to the critic to do what they want.

  • Reg says:

    Critics should reviews show that are “on their way,” but producers have to trust their gut instinct, talent, and integrity as they move forward. If you believe it will be a hit then take in all criticism and reviews – good and bad, professional critics, bloggers, word of mouth, investors – and learn from it and move ahead with confidence in your work and vision.

  • Jeryl M. says:

    Critics are important but it is more important to find out what average theatergoers think of the show. They are the ones who buy the tickets and keep the show running not the critics.

  • Joe Laub says:

    Hi, Ken,
    I really don’t pay a lot of attention to critics reviews. I’ve seen many a show that I loved (Dracula, the musical, Wonderland) and the critics closed each one of them way before its time.
    I hope that I am selected to win the tickets for “Once”. As always, Ken, your observations and blogs are fantastic! I’m happy to be on your mailing list. By the way, I have seen “Godspell” twice and hope to go on April 14 again.

  • Melissa says:

    If you believe in a project, bad out-of-town reviews are just a bump in the road. So many subjective factors go into writing reviews that producers (and readers) should take them with a grain of salt. Whether critics go to out-of-town runs or not, they’re bound to be prejudiced in different ways before they see the production on Broadway, and as professionals, they should do their best to go into every show with an open mind.

  • Heather says:

    I think that out-of-town or pre-Broadway reviews are important, but I think that the critics should keep in mind that these are in final stages of tweaking and changing to make it perfect. Oftentimes, I think that critics tend to forget this, and lambast a show, and that sometimes discourages audiences. I think that reviews should be just that, stepping stones for theatre lovers/producers to go by.
    I think critics should be allowed to go to these productions, but they should focus on what is good about the show: acting/singing/dancing, sets, costumes, etc. They should mention the show is in pre-Broadway or out-of-town, and give their final thoughts when the show hits The Great White Way.
    I also think that anyone who is looking to see any show should of course do research, read reviews from critics…but they should also read reviews from regular patrons. From personal experience, I do my research on shows, and I read reviews but keep an open mind, so I can make my own judgements. More often than not, I find the shows to be wonderful, and very glad to have not been biased based on other reviewers.

  • Katie O'Brien says:

    As a critic, I would go to every show I could (but maybe that’s just cuz I love an excuse to see a show XD lol!).
    As a Producer, I would definitely be interested in both seeing the show myself *and* listening to the critics.
    I would listen to the critics because these are possibly shows I could be producing, making money on, and if it gets bad reviews all around then I obviously don’t want to put my money in it.
    Buuut I would also want to go see the show myself just in case it’s one of those rare instances, like with Once, where you see something in the show that is actually really good, and the critics are wrong and/or change their minds about it. If I had *not* gone into that show purely based on reviews, and not on what I’ve seen, then I would have lost money and that would have been bad XD

  • Ed K. says:

    First, I saw the movie version of “Once” and really liked it a lot. So I would love to see the musical version!
    Second- yes, as a producer, I would welcome the feedback from critics- as part of the overall feedback a producer seeks to get- to shape the show before a run at Broadway. As I said, the critics are just one part of that- not the be all and end all.
    Finally, yes, critics should be allowed to review out-of-town shows. There are certain venues where they don’t invite critics so, if a producer wants to get audience feedback without critics in attendance, there are certain places they can present their show.
    Other than those, though, reviews should be fair game.

  • Tim R. says:

    Producers should look at reviews and take the positive compliments and learn from the negartive. An out of town tryout review should not be the ‘be all, end all’ for a show. A show can go through major improvements and open to rave reviews (as seen with several shows in the past).
    It’s good for the creators of a show to see a review early on in development, but it seems a lot of reviewers review early productions (like NYMF, for example) and judge it the same as they would a Broadway show with more time and budget. No, this does not seem fair.
    PS- Pick me!!! I’m absolutely DYING to see ‘Once’! 🙂

  • Don Gibbs says:

    Bad out-of-town reviews or a poor reception in London, as was the case for Love Never Dies, must certainly influence producers in their decisions of whether to bring a show to Broadway by investing in it. The New York critics don’t seem to have as big an influence on the success or failure of Broadway shows as they used to, however. Lysistrata Jones had a money review from Brantley, but it didn’t help build a following for it, and some shows that get mixed reviews end up being hits. If the Times is going to let one of its critics review an out-of-town production, it might be wise or fair to have their other critic review it when it arrives on Broadway.

  • pappy says:

    As someone said, the critics may be wrong but the audience (as a whole) is always right. So ignore the critics (who shouldn’t be reviewing out of town anyway) and size up the audience reaction.

  • Theo says:

    Out-of-town reviews are definitely important and producers shouldn’t ignore them. There’s nothing that can be lost by seeing what critics have to say about initial performances. However, critics should also be aware that these musicals and shows are often not in the final tweaking stages. It would be so unfortunate if a promising show didn’t receive the development and attention it deserves on Broadway due to a a few reviews before it had time to work out any kinks. That being said of course, producers should just go with instincts and give a show they believe in a chance rather than making an overall decision based on the opinions of one or two critics, who are simply doing their jobs and voicing their opinions.

  • Jack Dyville says:

    No. Reviewers stay away til the show is ready – There are Opening Nights for a reason. I hate that critics now even see and review shows in Previews before is is totally set in concrete! I mean take SUPERSTAR for example, Judas was out for several previews and many people reviewed the Understudy. Is that Fair?
    And as for the Free Ticksts to ONCE – Oh Ken for ONCE finally draw My Name!!!

  • David says:

    Producers should always pay attention to reviews, and use them to improve their shows.

  • Joe says:

    When it comes to reviews of pre-mounting/out of town runs, I think producers should definitely take account of what critics say, but understand just how those reviews will impact audience interest and act accordingly. There are different kinds of shows that rely on different kinds of audiences for ticket sales, and those audiences view reviews differently. Let’s get one thing clear though; a show NEEDS the tourist crowd to buy tickets in order to stay running longer than a few months. And tourists will only see a show if it
    A. is based on a movie/book
    B. has a major celebrity in a leading role or
    C. has just so much positive buzz it’s impossible to ignore.
    As a producer, if your show has either A or B (or both if you’ve got the money) then I wouldn’t worry about reviews; people will see the show no matter what. But if your show doesn’t have A or B, you really need to monitor reviews carefully. Shows lacking A or B are the ones that rely heavily on the theatre-lovers in NYC and the tristate area to take the leap of faith and buy the first round of tickets. And if they like the show, the tourists will come. But those initial audiences will not show well in the first place if everything they hear about the production is negative. Theatre lovers are the ones buying the first few weeks of tickets for shows, and they are also the most likely to read reviews before purchasing. Granted, there is leway in that any show, no matter how horrible it is, will have solid numbers for the first week based solely on curiosity. But the numbers will not last if the real theatre lovers living in NYC/NJ are reading terrible reviews about the show before it even opens. If your show doesn’t have the marketability to reach the tourist crowd right off the bat, I would listen to pre-mounting/out of town reviews very carefully. But if your show is bound to be a crowd favorite, or if you just feel so strongly that you have a massive hit on your hands, don’t take any reviews too much to heart. Either way though, outside eyes are always useful, so you might as well read everything.

  • Rob C says:

    Constructive criticism is good but criticism for the sake of criticism is useless. Plus I like to make up my own mind.

  • Corey says:

    Producers should take the out of town review like any other opinion with a grain of salt. It shouldn’t make or break a show – but should be good for feedback.

  • I think any review can be important, so long as it’s CONSTRUCTIVE feedback. I can’t stand when ANYONE bashes something with their words, but never offers any advice on how to fix it. That’s not being a critic, that’s just being judgmental. So again, if the review offers both opinions about what they liked and what they thought wasn’t working and WHY, then yes, I think it should at least be considered. And yes, I do believe critics are important to an out-of-town run. I am sure MANY shows have developed between their out-of-town or even off-Broadway runs before making it to the Great White Way. And I am also sure that many of those shows took to heart what the critics had to say.

  • Scott says:

    Wow! I’m impressed with many of, and the number of comments regarding this post. Once has a lot of pull…
    Reviews are important. They often make and break shows.
    I’m reminded of an important moment in this past week’s episode of Smash. After the workshop the creative team (sans designers whom we haven’t met yet for some odd reason) is sitting in Eileen’s (producer’s) office. Derek (director) is reading the reviews from her carefully placed Apple Mac which are negative.
    Eileen asks him to stop reading which he does. He joins the team and asks, “Is that it?” Eileen immediately and with out hesitation responds by saying, “Don’t be ridiculous, we know what we got.”
    Despite the poor reviews, the work is going to go on.
    Like so many things about Smash, it’s not reality. I only wish we didn’t pay so much attention to reviews. We do. Critics – even those who inhabit the Internet boards and blogs – have far more influence then they should. That is the reality and that hasn’t really changed that much.

  • Cyma says:

    It would be an interesting proposition if critics reserved their criticisms for Producers, first, without publishing OR would publish criticisms with Producer’s (Director’s, etc.) responses. I think that healthy criticism/a healthy eye can most often be beneficial and that for the entire cast/production staff, being emmeshed in it all often doesn’t allow for much-needed perspective. On the other hand, imagine if many of the art-masters (Van Gogh, Picasso, etc.) or composers (Verdi, Beethoven) only tailored their works to fit societal norms and mores. Musicals are also art (for Pete’s sake!) and deserve the same latitude that only time can provide!

  • Panic13B says:

    as a producer, i would pay attention to out-of-town or pre-broadway reviews. such reviews can inform you on how to tweak the show for success on broadway.
    i don’t think it is necessary for critics to see pre-broadway performances of a show, but i don’t think there is any harm done provided the critic makes clear distinctions between the broadway and pre-broadway productions.

  • Anthony says:

    An unbiased, informed opinion can be very helpful towards making a show better. It shouldn’t matter if that comes from a friend (who can be biased) or critic. You just need a fresh eye that you can trust to give some thoughts. Being in the room day after day can affect your thought process and having a fresh point of view can be very valuable.

  • Tina Alexander says:

    So many shows base their bottom line on ticket sales from out-of-towners. Reviews outside of NYC can help inform tweaks that could better suit that audience. Artistic vision is very important, but so is paying the bils. Reviews can provide a reality check.

  • David says:

    New York Critics should not review shows that are on their way. Don’t worry boys, you’ll get your chance. There are out of town local critics that are expressly paid to do that. In addition, professionals working on a new show, already know what needs to be fixed, have professional friends to advise them, and whether it’s fixable or not, should not be worried about some New York critic killing the baby before it’s born.

  • Rebecca says:

    I think producers should look always look at the reviews! I believe that all shows have potential to become a Broadway hit if the producers took their time to go through everything and tweak everything that needs to be fixed. Producers should pay more attention to these reviews because they can be the next big thing. But if producers fail to read reviews, it is their loss if a good show is not given the chance.

  • kevin davis says:

    Hi Ken,
    I think that we must pay attention to critics whether in town or out. Whether we like it or not they have enormous influence over the success and failure of a show. The earlier you get a read on their thoughts, the better you will be able to tweak your show. of course we should always evaluate critics reviews through our “filter” but a little bit of constructive criticism never hurt anyone.
    Critics should attend plays on the way. Of course, extremely negative reviews could kill your “baby” but positive reviews are priceless. Believe in your work and believe in yourself and critics will too!

  • Ginny Pike says:

    I think producers are often more in touch with the pulse of what audiences want than critics. I say, if a critic is saying something that you know rings true in your own heart as the producer, then take it as useful advice. But if your gut is telling you that the critic isn’t seeing the potential that you see in the project, and you really believe in it, I say, GO WITH YOUR GUT! You’re the producer for a reason!

  • V1RGINIO says:

    An early review of a show can be an extremely helpful tool for a producer. Like a report card in school, it serves as a barometer to how the show will fair on the big stage. That being said, there are a lot of other factors to consider. A show that gets rave reviews in central Kentucky might not bode well under the bright lights of Broadway. I think the most important part of a show in this example is audience involvement, and it’s very hard to replicate the unique melting pot of New York City somewhere else in this country.
    Let’s talk sports for a moment. Take the Jets, a team with mediocre record who is sharing the city with the Super Bowl Champions, and move them in Oklahoma. They would be adored beyond compare in a small market and they would probably win their division in the south-west. But put them in NY where the media is watching them like fish at an aquarium and make them play historic sports cities like Boston, Philadelphia and DC. Things will end up a little differently. The same principal works in reverse. I have a hard time believing that the hot pastrami sandwich gets as many orders at a restaurant in Kansas City as it does at the Carnegie deli. (Have you ever had Kansas City BBQ? Unreal!) Anyway, my long drawn out point is, location is key. Marketing principals 101. In my opinion the only TRUE test for a Broadway show is on “Broadway.” After all, you only get to make a first impression…ONCE!

  • MJP says:

    I would listen hard and carefully to any out-of-town review. Recognizing that the out of town try-out is essentially a rough draft for further productions, I think it’s incredibly important to consider intelligent analysis of the first draft. Of course, I reserve the right to decide the reviewer doesn’t know what he’s talking about. And of course I would take the publication where the review appeared into consideration. But critics, I find, are very often much more accurate than we want to believe.

  • Susan C says:

    Of course I don’t have anything new to add. I don’t think critics alone are the key to the success of a show. Clearly their review carries SOME weight, but they can’t
    necessarily gauge the response the “average” theatergoer
    will have to a production. I often read reviews and wonder if they saw the same show I did. I believe they should go to, and comment on, of out-of-town/pre-Broadway productions but should only be one factor is determining if a show is “Broadway ready.”

  • jgsabrinasavanna@aol.com says:

    I always consider a critics view relative to theater/movies, but I don’t let it be the last word. I have gone to things the critics weren’t overly optimistic about and I thought was good or very good. I think you have to keep an open mind, but I do have to say sometimes there is so much hype by the critics and I have been dissappointed when I finally have gone to see the show.

  • I don’t think Producers should pay too much attention to the reviews. Especially for out of town / off-Broadway pre-Broadway runs. The sad thing about the reviews nowadays is that they don’t constructively give notes on what to improve they just rip apart just because they can. If the review were saying this is what the show should work on before trying a Broadway run and everyone agrees (including the creators) then I don’t see how that can hurt the show to make the adjustment. At the end of the day it’s just opinions.

  • Morgan Allen says:

    I think producers should definitely pay attention to reviews to an extent but they should also listen to word of mouth as well. If the reviews are absolutely terrible, then some work needs to be done and if they totally disregard this, they’re in for some big trouble. Likewise, they can’t always just rely on positive out of town or pre-Broadway tryout reviews. What might get rave reviews in another town may not garner the same reviews once placed to “Broadway standards.” They should take the reviews in stride and just try and put faith in the production as they know it not as someone else knows it.

  • Brian says:

    The fact of the matter is many people’s opinons on whether or not they should see a show is partly dependent on what their favorite (or least favorite) reviewer says (some more than others). For this reason, reviewers should strive to provide constructive and productive opinions of pieces to help their subscribers form an opinion. When it gets too gossipy and preachy (*ahem* Michael Reidel *ahem*), it can be detrimental towards the purpose of reviewing.
    But from a producer’s perspective, they should welcome and absorb everything that reviewers have to say, especially with pre-Broadway tryouts. It provides them an opportunity to see what the public with an [ideally] objective has to say, and could give them invaluable insight into how to make a show a box office success, as well as a critical one.

  • Robert L. says:

    I think it’s really tough for producers and creatives in this age of instant reviews with online blogs and chatter. You want the feedback on one hand, but on the other, the show might not be ready to be ripped apart and disected. If they pay attention to all of it, they can do themselves in. After all, opinions are like…ANYWAY, there is something to be said about giving a nod to word-of-mouth and what people are saying, then following your gut. Some of the best numbers have come from somthing that was missing out of town. Tradition, Put On a Happy Face, Comedy Tonight were all added after a tryout.

  • Rick Reynolds says:

    I would listen to any and all reviews, and temper them with any knowledge of the reviewer, especially in the case of a revival, for which many critics have pre-conceived notions and feelings. Then go with your gut.

  • Doug says:

    I always thought that out of town productions and pre-Broadway tryouts existed primarily to see the audiences’ reactions and tighten and perfect the show before bringing it in to Broadway. Therefore, I thought it was traditional that New York critics not attend out of town tryouts. As for out of town critics reviewing shows opening in their cities, why not? The theatre-goers living in that town deserve to read some critical opinions as to whether or not the show is worth attending. I suppose it is up to the individual Broadway producers to decide if they want to read out of town critics’ opinions, but I would assume that they want to have an idea of how the show is coming across.

  • Adam says:

    I think there are 2 distinct questions being asked that are somewhat related, but not related in its entiety…
    1) Producers should be interested in critisism in every form, from local papers to national, to 2 lady’s gossiping on the way out of your show..
    2) I think it should be a critics responsibility to “critisize” responsibly.. much like looking at the half finished work of a poet, sometimes shows need to find thier rythem and work out the kinks before it is in shape for “broad-based” audiances… Products of all kinds are tested within “focus groups”, it helps product makers/producers give the public what they are asking for..

  • Julia F says:

    Critical feedback on tryouts can only help. For blockbusters like Ghost, which rely on a pre-existing brand and flashy production, the sayso of a Brantley or Isherwood won’t have much impact on their Broadway business and they can safely disregard it. For a small, riskier show like Once, a rave may help prick up the ears of tastemakers and create more buzz going in. Even a neutral to negative review can serve as a warning that more work is needed – I haven’t seen either iteration of Once, but I assume things have been tweaked from NYTW to the Jacobs – or even prevent producers from throwing money at a truly lost cause. The day is past when a reviewer could make or break a show’s commercial prospects purely on the strength of their opinion, but they can definitely be sources of encouragement and direction.

  • Randi says:

    While it might not be completely fair to get a Bway critic’s review before you are ready for Bway, it is just silly for a producer/&c to ignore what the critic had to say. If someone with the clout and influence of Isherwood had problems with JCS out of town, I would definitely have heeded his warnings and made some changes.

  • Jake says:

    Producers of course should be receptive to reviews from out of town. This could save a show from a potential flop in New York. The producers should also be extremely receptive of the word of mouth out of town or pre-Broadway. No one singular critic is going to be the end all be all prediction of a show’s life.

  • Dave Cackowski says:

    I would say as a producer it would depend on how successful that show was and then gauge how many other cities had a similar set of reviews.
    Dave C.
    Cleveland

  • Michael Sargent says:

    Quite simply, it depends on the production. Are you producing a high-profile revival with a top-notch director such as JCS? Or, are you a new production that is in development? It all comes down to what is in the best interest for that particular show. If you aren’t flexible and open-minded, you won’t be able to take the right course of action.

  • Daniel Schmitt says:

    In perspective I don’t bank much on pre-Broadway or out of town try out’s impacting the success of a production when and if it finally does make it to Broadway. There are many more factors involved when it comes to out of town and pre-Broad trys…for one, a lot more cities are marketed to pre-Broadway try outs then there were years ago and depending on the location and clientele of the area, it could all wind up being a local taste or dislike for something but could shed a completely positive or negative result on Broadway. I think an off-Broadway run would be more likely to produce a reaction more like what would be expected on Broadway because most shows trend to be scaled the same as in smaller houses (typically). I think it’s mostly a producer’s choice to attempt the best when doing an out of town or off-Broadway try out and listen to the reactions but at the same time stay focused on what their goals and aspirations are. If any of this makes sense, I really don’t know but there are so many shows that can be accounted for that have done well out of town and off-Broadway and made it to the Big White Way to draw not so large a response and we’ve all seen the reverse side of that also. If it were me and I had the funds to produce something out of town hoping to successfully go to Broadway I certainly would…if it failed or had negative encompassment I would take all things into consideration and hopefully afford a venture to Broadway ending in a result of what the people want.

  • Tom L says:

    Just this season, I watched the critics kill Bonnie & Clyde prematurely. I think that if producers continue to use 21st Century marketing/promotion techniques, a bad review won’t KILL shows as quickly as they used to– while a positive review can help buoy weak tkt sales.

  • Jack says:

    As with anything, moderation is key. Can early criticism be useful for a show? Yes, but only inasmuch as the criticism is insightful, and understood by the show’s team. Should critics attend out-of-town tryouts or other early incarnations of shows? Yes, if they are assigned to by their media outlets…and if they have a genuine interest in what is being created. I do think that sometimes the eye of a different critic can be useful once the show opens in town — it can be hard to overcome the initial impression.

  • Steven says:

    I think it’s important for producers to listen to outside opinions. This doesn’t necessarily mean critics, but it is helpful to hear what works and what doesn’t from people not attached to the production. However, I don’t think aspects that are important to the creative team should be compromised because of what one critic says. It varies from show to show of course. Either way, it’s a gamble and the producer must do what he or she thinks is the best for the production regardless of what critics say.

  • wendy caster says:

    I’m glad Brantley changed his mind about Once, but I’m sad that Flesh and Blood, another show he panned at NYTW, never got its second chance. It was brilliant, but it disappeared prematurely. Perhaps that wasn’t 100% Brantley’s fault, but I’m pretty sure it was at least 75%!

  • I’m not sure how accurate out of town critiques reflect the tastes of a New York critical audience. I am thinking recently about High. It has done, and continues to do very well regionally, yet was completely dismissed by a New York audience. Bonnie & Clyde did very well regionally as well and flopped here. I’m sure for many of the more edgy shows the reverse is true. Tours often end early and don’t sell as well as anticipated, after a long successful run in New York.

  • Mac says:

    An out-of-town review from the Times is really one of the best things a Producer can have it their pocket.
    If it’s great…you have an incredibly powerful tool to line up investors, and to get started on your advance and be able to sell previews.
    If it’s less than kind…you have a blueprint of what you can fix if you need a good review from the Times. For instance, the Follies revival had a not-quite-glowing review, and they went through and fixed the very real problems the production faced. I saw the show in DC and New York, and the improvements were small but made the production OH SO MUCH better. It went from pretty good to brilliant by some tightening, clarifying, and a re-casting.
    If it’s an outright pan…then your show didn’t connect with Brantley or Isherwood, and it probably won’t the next go around. And at least you know that–before your $15m in the hole, though if you think your show doesn’t need them you are free to ignore.
    What’s the down side, again?

  • “Once” is on my list of Shows I Definitely Want to See!
    To answer your question, Ken, producers should pay a huge amount of attention to out of town or pre-Broadway reviews. This is the first time a public audience is seeing the show. The process of creation can get very insular and the producer badly needs an outside perspective – and more than one. If three reviews of your show all say the pace drags, then you should probably gently confer with the director. But – if the three reviews are wildly different, then go with your gut.
    Sure critics should review out of town or pre-Broadway. If you’re asking the public to pay $$, then it’s up for review. An exception would be the preview period of a show, but Spider-Man trashed that concept.

  • Brandon Suisse says:

    If I were a Broadway producer, I’d pay less attention to the out of town reviews than I would to the audience reaction. Sure, the reviews might provide helpful feedback, but the theatrical experience is a collaboration with the audience, not the critics.
    When making my choice about whether I want to see a show, I tend to place more stock in a thoughtful online comment by an average theatergoer than some bitter reviewer’s rant.
    On a related note, if I disagree with a reviewer (or when a theatre sends out a “tell us what you thought” e-mail) I think it’s healthy to contribute to the conversation and will post a few words about a show. So many “arbiters of taste” don’t really represent the average theatergoer’s taste, so it’s important to contribute to alternate sources of information about a show.

  • Kerry Zukus says:

    Critics have a role. They are consumer reporters. If a show opens in Boston, they have a responsibility to Boston-area fans to inform them of their opinion as to whether this particular show is worth attending. So, too, Off-Broadway openings that may or may not transfer to the Great White Way. A show should not be considered “hands off” to critics if it is playing anywhere and charging admission.
    What should be the take-away for producers? Silly question. Critics influence theatergoers. Mindsets are created. If a critic says that a certain number drags down the show, or that the lighting is too dull and dreary, it plants a seed in the mind of future audiences. Producers should be HAPPY they have another bite at the apple, so to speak, if the production plans to move on. Consider the criticism, weigh it all, and if necessary, make changes and thank the theater gods that you had the opportunity to do so.

  • Mr. Ken says:

    When it comes to critics, I say, “Pander, don’t ponder!” If you can schmeichel Michael, go right ahead. 🙂
    But seriously folks…
    How about concentrated effort to build an alternative ‘brand’ or ‘source’ to get the eyeballs of tourists? Perhaps a Celebrity Review Site, ie “STARS ON BROADWAY”- where high octane celebrities are invited to see shows and give their “official celebrity reviews”- specifically for tourists, with a different agenda than critics (to publicize, not criticize), yet of interest/influence to tourists. Keeps the Celeb in the public eye, as an ‘expert’ on Broadway, and it’s fun for everyone. Other ideas…?

  • Jared W says:

    If I were a producer, I would definitely read out-of-town reviews, but I would take them with a grain of salt. If there is a common complaint that comes up in multiple reviews, then it is obviously something worth looking at. But at the same time, theatre is a subjective medium and you will never please everyone. At the end of the day, you have to go with your gut and produce a work of theatre you believe in. If the critical community doesn’t “get it,” oh well. There are plenty of shows that are now recognized as masterpieces that were not originally well-received.
    And to answer that last question, yes, critics should definitely review out-of-town tryouts and other pre-Broadway productions. The point of those productions is to see how audiences are reacting to the show in its current state, and critics are part of your audience.

  • Katherine Ray says:

    Out of town reviews can be constructive for adjusting a show but and here is the big but, it depends upon who the critic is. I have read many reviews by people I dont believe were qualified to give honest constructive critisism on a work in progress. As a producer its your job to filter the good and the bad and in the end trust your gut. Social media tools I believe are a better tool these days than the critic, but thats just me.

  • Out of town critics are just one valuable piece of the puzzle. Audience response is another as is feedback from industry professionals and, of course, the show’s creators. A smart producer should listen to all the feedback and then make the sometimes tough creative decisions he feels are best for his show.

  • Steve S. says:

    The out of town critics should definitely be read, but I don’t think they should be a deciding factor in the decision to bring in a show or not. Just like there’s a “light for every broken heart on Broadway,” there’s also a light for every “critics’ darling” show that came in and failed big time.

  • Lana M. says:

    I think that producers should pay attention to reviews & use this feedback to improve the show.

  • Ryan McCurdy says:

    I think critics should definitely go.
    I think Producers should ignore them in most cases. Let the review of each developmental stage affect only that developmental stage.

  • Kristopher says:

    Call it what you will, an out of town tryout (I like ’em) is a workshop with preview performances. In that case, I feel reviews should wait but critics should feel welcome.
    After all, some critics (example, Peter Filichia) can point out useful notions during an out of town tryout. I’d be more willing to pay attention to that as a producer than to a review during this time period–if they respect the process, I’ll respect their input.

  • Andrew Beck says:

    Yes, producers should pay attention to out of town reviews:
    1) To pick out some good quotes for out of town advertising and a few quotes for New York advertising purposes (though out of town quotes are not necessarily that effective for NY purposes, as New York critics’ mindsets can be very different from an out of town critic)
    2) To get some idea of feedback from people who are generally avid theatergoers, who see a lot of productions, and who may have some legitimate constructive criticism to share. This would be particularly helpful if the critic was someone for whom the producer had a great deal of respect and whose reviews had been prescient in the past. I’m thinking of someone like an Elliott Norton in Boston, who routinely offered helpful suggestions or carefully explained his reactions so that the creatives could get an idea of the origins of one person’s opinions.

  • Loganne says:

    I don’t know why producers shouldn’t appreciate out-of-town feedback. If it stinks, there is the opportunity to re-work the project. If it’s slamin’, more power to the production. I think critiscm from someone uninvested in the project is important at every stage.

  • Shannon D. says:

    Let’s keep it short & sweet this time:
    1) As a Producer, TOTALLY pay attention to ALL reviews (no matter who or where they come from in the country)
    2) YES, critics should go. Because if they don’t go, then who else would be “discussing” the show and getting the word out – good or bad.
    That is all for now! 🙂

  • Candace says:

    Critics are the eyes and ears of the general public and their opinions should be taken into account to see possible slow points in a show. The producer has to weigh these opinions against his/her own thoughts, then take it from there.

  • W.C. says:

    Sometimes when we are working on a labor of love, it is hard to see the flaws of a show. Reviews of an out-of-town production would aid the fine tuning of a show.
    Reviews might even help producers position their shows in a more beneficial way.
    While as creators we might think it is unfair that reviewers come to see a pre-Broadway run of the show, it is to be expected. If you go and to tell the New York audience, that the next big thing is heading your way, then you are, in a sense, sending out an invitation to them to come see what you got. Who can blame this audience if they decides to drop by a little early?

  • Steve says:

    I’d give heavy weight to an out-of-town review. If it’s a disaster out-of-town, it’s going to have to be completely reworked to have even a chance of success in NYC.

  • andyj says:

    To get ahead of those reviews, I pump the hell out of my shows’ blogs and Social Media sites. That gets brand ambassadors going gaga and more people curious about the show.

  • Ed K. says:

    I liked the movie “Once” a lot and will be rooting for this show to do well, too.
    Critics are important for 2 reasons:
    1) people read them (and believe them), and
    2) they may actually be right…sometimes
    If you don’t want critics to see a show then you have to find one of the venues where critics are not invited. There are some out there but the feedback, even if it misses the mark it still tells you something about your show (which may have missed the mark), so it is valuable- and deserves to be valued.

  • Robb Johnston says:

    You cannot ignore critics on out of town shows, but they ought not be the final word either. I really think NY critics should not review out of town runs that have eyes on Broadway. But producers should be all over the local reviews.
    The documentary “Show Business” that followed 4 shows leading up to the Tonys a few years back, it was interesting to see the critics slag off on Wicked early on then change their tune greatly going into the awards.
    these days, I think critics have less of an impact than they did even a few years ago. I am more interested in the opinions of friends of mine and their blogs/facebook status updates than most critics.
    That said, when I dislike something and the critics are going off on it, it is a little bit delicious

  • Lane says:

    Opinions are valuable regardless the source. It’s the producers job to measure how much importance to place on those opinions and how to react. Critics can’t save a bad show nor can they kill a good one. They are a voice in an increasingly broad and deep sea of voices. If the public is seeing your show, the critics of today are attending and their reviews will be instantaneous. Smart producers figure out how to use those voices to their advantage.

  • J & M says:

    We got to see this show Pre-Opening Night on March 17th, St. Patty’s Day…A perfect way to celebrate St. Patty’s Day! The audience was so full of life and celebration. Not being sure theatre could pull of what it truly an already great movie, a splendid job was done by everyone! The cast was great, musicianship superb and it was an added element of fun when the audience was invited on stage for the opening number and then during intermission to buy food & drinks. For younger people who would otherwise avoid Broadway shows, this would be one they should and would probably enjoy seeing. We want to go again and again!

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