Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Effect of Local Reviewers on Shows

Today as I was reading through some of my favorite theater blogs, I came across a post in which the author was lamenting the influence (or perceived influence depending on your POV) that the critics have on Broadway and Off Broadway shows. Specifically the critics of the New York Times having a monopoly (from The Wicked Stage). That got me thinking about the effect that the local reviewers have on the success or failure of shows locally.

There are three papers that usually review shows here in the Mid Hudson Valley: The Poughkeepsie Journal, The Kingston Freeman, Middletown Times Herald Record. These papers as the names suggest are geographically distant from one another, and although I have no stats on how much the readership may overlap, the three papers will often all review the same show.

Honestly, I've seen poor attendance on a show that has had great reviews, and good attendance on a show with a luke-warm review. It seems attendance is more based on how well the show is known (Honk! vs. Chicago as an example) and if it is a Musical versus a Drama. Musicals that are well known appear to have the most allure. So it is hard to prove (or disprove) conclusively the effect reviews have on attendance. Certainly I've never let a review influence my decision to attend a show locally.

What are your experiences - If you are a theatergoer: Do you use reviews to make decisions on what plays and musicals to see? If you are part of a theater group: Do you see an increase or decrease in attendance based on your reviews? I'd love to hear any thoughts you have on what is true for your area.

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Community Theater in the Mid Hudson Valley of New York. Information on shows, auditions, and our general adventures onstage, backstage and in the audience.