With stories popping up from The Wall Street Journal's Terry Teachout and Chicago Tribune's Chris Jones in Variety regarding the value of keeping press at bay during previews -- as well as some outright indignation about the recent review of half a preview by George Hunka of Superfluities -- I once again must ask "Are blogs making the time-honored preview obsolete?"
Or at least in the way we currently view previews?
Teachout astutely writes:
[S]ome shows are news, and the fact that the Seattle tryout of Young Frankenstein got mixed reviews in the local papers has not gone unnoticed (or unreported) in New York....With playgoers "publishing" their opinions of new shows whenever they please, is there any reason for producers to keep on holding critics at bay until the last minute? Perhaps for now, but my guess is that the institution of the theatrical preview will soon come to be seen as pointless. As any number of red-faced pols can tell you, there are no secrets in the age of the New Media.Jones adds:
In an era when a first preview audience disseminates amateur opinions to the world through Internet chatrooms, the out-of-town Broadway tryout seems like an anachronism. Why pay to truck your show all across America if gossip and local reviews will now be almost as widely disseminated in Gotham as if you were playing in Times Square?Are new media getting an unfair advantage over old media vis-à-vis shows in previews because virtually anything goes in the blogosphere?
In the interest of full disclosure, I wrote and posted my "review" of Young Frankenstein prior to its Seattle opening and labeled it a "preview." I also wrote and posted my "review" of 100 Saints You Should Know just days before the show opened. And for the record, with one notable exception, I never walk out of shows.
I'd love to hear what you think.
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).
Are Blogs Making The Time-Honored Preview Obsolete? (August 20, 2007)