Before I moved to New York I would often vacation here, seeing several shows in a short period, usually a weekend. I would fly in on a Friday morning, see a Friday Evening, Saturday Matinee, Saturday Evening (often an off-Broadway show starting at 10 or 11 PM Saturday night), a Sunday Matinee, then catch a flight home. On those occasions my show going choices were defined by what was playing and what I could get a ticket to on a particular trip. I saw many memorable shows but missed a great deal as well.
When I moved to The Big Apple in 1998 my choices were broader as I had a year round access to NY theater. I started a spreadsheet (seems my answer to most things) that recorded the theater critics response to NY shows and, if I saw them, mine as well. By comparing and tracking this I found that many times my opinions came close to the New York Times critics (yes, by that time Ben Brantley was the primary NYT critic).
As time went on, I stopped tracking and that chore was recently taken up by various online resources like Playbill, Theatremania and my favorite, www.didhelikeit.com by Ken Davenport. But the closer I watch (or the more I age) I have discovered that my opinions are less simpatico with any of the critics. For instance, Ben Brantley trashed the current Sam Gold production of The Glass Menagerie that I considered brilliant and necessary to calcified productions of that chestnut.
I know there are new internet options of crowd critics where every audience member can propagate their opinion even well before official opening night. While a scourge to producers it is simply exhausting to me. Hard enough to keep up with a dozen or so legit theater reviewers than to follow and sort through the thousand snarky nerds empowered by a blog (hey, I resemble that remark!).
So now I see what I want, defined more by what I found on discount sites I use than any particular strategy. I see as much as I can get away with without totally bankrupting me and when I have time and energy to see new shows. It has been wonderful and I report them here. But don’t listen to me. Just one old white guy’s opinion.