How to Review and Evaluate a Broadway Production

14 Feb

The term “Broadway Show,” officially refers to productions done in one of forty theatres located on Broadway in New York City, though most people group them with off-Broadway and sometimes even smaller productions.

The first thing one must realise in order to appreciate a performance is that even if the production is, by one standard or another (and it certainly will be) absolute rubbish, it is up to the viewer to like or dislike this production at will and no one can or should attempt to remove the appreciation felt for that piece.

This concept is grounded in the idea that theatre is in fact art and art  is is subjective.

There are courses in theatre and appreciation thereof, which are available for those interested in it as a scholarly study, however, it would be difficult and frivolous of me to make this into a lesson plan, so this topic will be a very broad overview merely to sharpen ones’ appreciation for the art.

Many art enthusiasts, in any field of art, have favourite artists.  Many have favourite genres.  Broadway is known for musicals but it is important to know that there is much more available.  It is also important to keep an open mind; keep in mind that compromising and sacrificing your tastes are not the same thing, you are definitely entitled to your biases; they are part of what makes you unique.

Another important thing to realise is what goes into a theatrical production.

From costume design, to lighting, to performing and directing, everyone puts in a great deal of time and energy and they risk the humiliation of failure every time they do their job.

Pay attention to music and musical cues, if the production contains them, are they appropriate?  What would you do differently?  Why?

“Why?” is very important.  You cannot have empty hatred for a work of art and you cannot merely say, “that is not art!”  Make a logical and carefully constructed case against the acting, directing, choreography, set, costumes, text or whatever else you found fault with.  What sounds better, “I did not find the production very appealing because during the scene in which they were supposed to be relaxing and expressing pleasantries the light was heavily red-washed and the music was loud, violent in temper, fast in tempo and full of battery.”  Or, “Yo, that sh*t sucked yo, that n*gga on stage was a f*g.”

For all things remember, words are an art, there is good art and bad art.

Now, for the annoying part, “I liked ___, ____ and ____.”

No one wants to say what they liked about something that they did not like, but remember that the cumulative effort of this production took days and there is probably something in it that did not make you want to go slaughter livestock with your teeth.  In addition, sometimes thinking about minor details of it can show you that you appreciate parts of it, to be quite fair though, sometimes not.

Once you have weighed out what was bearable, what was fantastic and what made you grimace, you can formulate a review.

Structure varies, I for one, often go with this format:

Paragraph One:
Name and Description/Main Character(s)

Description, now is your time to throw out some starting adjectives.

Paragraph Two:

Lead into personal thoughts with thematic examination

The parts of the play did or did not go well because:

Paragraph Three:

Your thoughts and more things within the play that affected them, for better or for worse.

Paragraph Four:

Wind down opinions toward conclusion with supporting evidence and attempt to give a summation.

Paragraph Five:

This production was:

I would not/would suggest this to a blind mute with enough time and money to build a stack of $100 notes the size of the Empire State building.

There you have it, minus or plus a couple of paragraphs, this gives you a structure and a starting point.

This time, when your girlfriend or wife (or boyfriend, who’s judging?) drags you to “Wicked,” you know how to formulate your discontent with it beyond saying, “I can’t believe we spent that long watching a show about some green b*tch and a goat…”


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