Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Few Comments About Theatre Criticism in LA

I call myself a reviewer, not a critic. I look for the positive in a show, not the negative. If  I truly feel from experience that there are some changes to be made in the script, in the acting or direction, I point them out constructively. I believe, as an actor, that the work is under-appreciated, and the difficult process is not fully understood by many. Sometimes there's jealousy, as a reviewer may also be an actor or writer or director and thinks he (she) can act the role better or direct/choreograph better or write a more smooth sailing version of what they're seeing.

In critiquing a musical some of the music may seem pedestrian and not up to what one believes it should be, melodically or otherwise. There's no reason  not to state that in the review, but don't let that complaint destroy one's vision of the entire show. Or, on the other hand, the book may be at fault, not the music. When films are adapted into Broadway musicals, which seems to be a trend these days, due to a lack of creativity and stimulation among playwrights, it is wise to remember that presenting said material onstage is not the same as on film. Closeups  are a natural part of a film, but onstage there are no closeups. Some stories are better suited to the technique of film and should be left as they are. Adaptations that try to make scenes bigger and broader onstage ruin the simple, inherent, heartfelt quality of the intended message. So sometimes the book, or sometimes the music may be at fault, but not necessarily the whole picture. There may be some or many redeeming qualities that deserve to be recognized and praised. Critics tend to forget the actors; if they hate a piece for either its music or book, they pan it altogether, leaving the actors' hard work in the gutter. It's a shame!

Anyway, most recently, I enjoyed the splendid efforts of the cast and creative team of Sleepless in Seattle in Pasadena. It does make a better film than play, without question. The creative team have decided to give it a frenetic pace, and for the most part it works, even the music, in spite of the fact that there is no real memorable song here. The theme onscreen and onstage: life/dating in the city can take its toll on people; true love is not always easy to come by.  The musical's book is a pretty fair effort. even without Nora Ephron's sweet tender emotions, and the potential for the show to grow is real, but many critics panned the show mercilessly. It is sad when critics take away the chance that a show may have to improve by stating its flaws in a purely negative way, keeping audience away and not allowing the show to find itself and eventually blossom. It makes me wonder why I review at all? If I'm in the minority, does my opinion matter, except to me? I do believe that many of our critics are either frustrated, insecure writers or...... selfish, bloomin' id----! You know who you are; sadly, from experience, you will never change!