From the publisher...
What is a "Bad Review"?
One of my favorite opening lines is, "The wind chimes were the
first bad sign."1 This is from a review of a Celtic Woman concert
in Providence, Rhode Island, wherein the reviewer
opined that the renowned performers had strayed
too far from the Celtic roots that made them famous.
Reviewer Rick Massimo was far from alone in that
opinion. However, at last count, Celtic Woman album sales were doing
just fine in Providence, and no one impaled Rick on a shamrock. The
performers, and their entire enterprise, took his comments in stride
and probably under advisement. It takes a true professional to understand
that even bad reviews are good for business, and that a less-than-stellar
review means that someone really listened, rather than dashed off some
lines based on a press release. That is a very good thing.
It's also a lesson that, apparently, some Louisville theatre managers
haven't learned. I have heard of some serious backlash against reviewers
in recent months. Some theatres have withheld reviewers' comp tickets,
sent them angry letters or even tacitly blacklisted some whose reviews
they found unflattering. This baffling and mean-spirited phenomenon
reaches across the spectrum, from the smallest online publication to
the area's most widely circulated print media.
So, all of this begs the question, "What constitutes a bad review?" Certainly,
there are some, just as there are bad productions. It is important to
remember, however, that "bad" and "unflattering" are
not the same. Every person, in every chair in your theatre, is a reviewer,
although all may not be equally as vocal about their reaction. When
someone does express an opinion, it's essential to listen -- and when
that opinion doesn't coincide with your theatre's, you need to figure
out why. Unless you're planning to blanket the audience with questionnaires,
reviewers are your eyes and ears out there; and whether you agree with
them or not, all have a vantage point that you can only get by proxy.
Moreover, it's rare that an opinion is held by only one.
A bad review is one that is poorly written, or one that rambles, fails
to make a point, or lacks enough specifics to support the reviewer's
opinion, whether flattering or un-. It is not one that simply fails
to tell a producer what he or she wants to hear.
In short, ask not for whom the wind chimes ring. Open your doors and
your minds, lest you find them ringing for empty seats.
Rick. "Celtic Woman Not True to Music." The
Providence Journal, March 6, 2007.
Copyright © 2008 A.S. Waterman. All rights reserved.
Artwork and text are copyright © 2006 and 2016 A.S. Waterman.
All rights reserved.