Am I entering a post-critic age?

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.

Ben Brantley

As usual you can find more at http://www.walterthinnes.com or on Twitter @walterthinnes

One thought on “Am I entering a post-critic age?

  1. I think the great thing about theater is that we can all have different opinions. So what if we like a show someone else thinks is trashy? Theater is meant to entertain and enlighten. As long as it’s done one of those things for you, there’s no reason you shouldn’t like it.

    Like

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