Blogs > The Arts Whisperer

Offering a fresh way of helping you keep up with art and entertainment happenings around the Capital District.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

opening nights

I am often asked - when is the best time to attend a production of a play? I usually respond- as late in the run as possible. The reason should be obvious. The more performances the cast has under their belts the better the performance is likely to be. Also any early technical problems are likely to be solved during the run

As a reviewer it is mandatory to go to play as early in the run as is possible. About 90% of the shows I see are on opening night. Again, the reason is obvious. My job is to inform people about the production to help them decide whether or not to manage their money by going (or not going) to the show. Running a review at the end of the run doesn't help that decision.

It can sometimes be a dilemma. I recently reviewed the Park Playhouse production of "The Producers." It was a technical nightmare. A loud hum was not only distracting, it was annoying. One of the leads had a microphone that frequently cut off just as he was delivering a punch line. There is little question such distractions bothered the audience; they also had to influence the performers confidence and comic timing.

In this case I made it clear in the review that on that night the tech problems ruined the performance. I also made it clear that it was unlikely someone reading the review would have those same problems. I understand a new sound system was installed the next day and there have been no more sound problems.

However, in a review I cannot be as generous to performances. There is no way of knowing with certainty how the technical problems affected the performances. There is a fine line between being aware of problems and apologizing for them. A reviewers job is to report on the production attended. Yes, we all assume a performance will improve throughout the run, but it is not always true. Besides, there were negative issues with some performances that had nothing to o with technical distractions.

I don't want to tell anyone to ignore my review of "The Producers," but I can say for sure, you will not see the show I saw.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

so much to do, so little time

There's a saying - if you want something done ask a busy man to do it. The logic of that statement is busy people know how to prioritize their time and get things done. People with too much time tend to put off and stretch out work. It's the Parkinson's Theory of "Work expands to fill the time available."

I'm not sure where I fit in that theory -busy or slothful - but I do know I've been extremely busy - enough so that when I do have down time I enjoy being slothful. The result of this sloth has been to neglect this blog.

Now in the midst of the frantic summer season extremely busy turns to insanely busy. In the past 18 days I attended 11 plays/operas. I've written on all of them for the pages of THE RECORD. Most have them have been in the Berkshires which requires additional travel. So yes, I've been busy.

One of strange thinks about being busy is it's like exercise. It gives you additional energy. I tend to get edgy on the rare night I don't have anything to do. Last night I had no plays assigned, but I was at a board meeting for Caffe Lena for a couple of hours. Tonight I will likely to go to "Merchant of Venice" by Saratoga Shakespeare in Congress Park in Saratoga, Thursday "The Hollow" at Theatre Barn in New Lebanon, Friday "Romeo & Juliet" at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Mass. and Saturday "Sylvia" at Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, Mass. Maybe on Sunday I will go to the Salem Arts Tour tour as 15 artists open their studios to the public. (Read more about it in Thursday's InSight.)

I've come to realize that I do a lot of things like the art tour are not reportable (after the fact) in the pages of The Record, and there are other things that cannot be detailed in a short review or preview piece. In other words, I have not been using this blog to full advantage to report on all there is to do, or to cover in the depth things deserve.

I hope in the next several weeks to write more about things that are available in the area and to share different slants on things that I see.

So bear with me and let's see if the busy man theory is fact or myth.