Saturday, January 13, 2007

Johnny, Sprites, and the feedback loop

If you are just sitting down to your morning cuppa Joe on Saturday morning and leafing through the blogoshere, you might want to pop on the Disney channel. At 10am this morning, a new children’s show premieres on the Disney channel that stars John Tartaglia from “Avenue Q” and, as described in this New York Times piece, has been enhanced by the involvement of a lot of Broadway vets up to and including no less than Mr. Stephen Schwartz.

I wanted to thank everyone who has commented on the ole blog lately, particularly the responses to my post about impressions and RTP. It was particularly nice to hear from Mr. Knapp who prompted the post. Let me try to respond in kind.

Jacquie, you are way too kind and also a good friend and someone I still owe a Christmas card to (yes, sad to say, we are still sending them out…) Please don’t hesitate to call me ignorant; god knows I am about many many things (as my children will be only TOO glad to point out for you!) What I hope I have done is try to approach theater criticism as a fan. I also went into this gig with no illusions that it was a great way to meet new pals in the theater world so, while I wouldn’t ask for your envy, you also shouldn’t feel too sorry for me either.

Amy, I love when you post a comment and really respect your perspective. I think you hit a nail on the head. As a writer for (and therefore a representative of) Style, I expect the magazine’s treatment of theater gets confused with my opinion of theater. This is completely understandable; I know I consider the T-D’s lack of a full-time staff writer covering the performing/fine arts a comment on their lack of respect for those communities. The situation with Style has some complications and maybe when I get a second I can expound a little on the inner workings of Style as I understand them. They may or may not reflect the reality of the situation. And yes, I do remember your letter, Amy! Too bad it was back in the days before blogs or else I might have had a chance to respond. Responses were discouraged back in those non-interactive days…

John, I thought there was a hint of jest in your comment but I couldn’t be sure. I guess it tweaked the guilt I feel for not seeing any RTP shows in almost two years. Yes, I have GOT to get out more.

Did I review Pageant? I don’t remember doing so but I’ll have to comb through the archives and make sure. Let me assure you that I know very well that those who work in theater do it because they love it not to make scads of cash (well, I did it to meet chicks but that was years ago…) I try to bring that perspective to my reviews as well. But I also try to bring another perspective, which is that of a patron who has paid their good money and is devoting an evening to a show and has a right to expect certain things in response (though I get most of my tickets for free, some schedule juggling or hiring of a babysitter is required even for me. And my mother-in-law doesn’t work cheap…) Just one anecdote to put out there as an example: a couple I know recently walked out of the TheatreVCU production of “Medea” and went out to see a movie because it was their night out, dammit, and they were determined to be entertained even if they had to pay for both a play and a movie to make that happen.

I guess my point is that I certainly respect and admire that people do theater because they love it. But, if they want pats on the back from a critic or adoration from an audience, they have to do more than show up and put in the hours. They also have to be creative, talented and maybe even a bit lucky. It's not an easy job, I know, but love is never easy.

As for the inner workings of Style and why certain things are covered or not, per my response to Amy I’ll do my best to talk about some of that in a future post. Fer sure.


pnlkotula said...

I LOVE Johnny and the Sprites, and how open-minded of Disney to use him, when the kids who watch could NEVER have seen Avenue Q. BTW, those who don't know, I have a 5 year old. I also enjoy Little Einsteins, particularly because you get to applaud classical composers at the end of each episode - Yaaaaay Mozart!

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave! I would be interested in hearing about why you think Style picks one show and not another. As a board member at Swift Creek Mill I know what Carrie has told me over the phone when I have tried to book a critic to come out and review us. I can tell you the conversations with her have been quite confusing over the years...from, "your productions have gone down hill" (that was a fun conversation) to "The Mill is too far out of town for our Style readership" to "We just can't cover them all". I keep e-mailing her our press releases and hope for the best. Things have been getting better (I know because you fight like hell to get us in…thank you, thank you)!

P.S. Still haven’t mailed out my holiday cards…or taken down my Christmas tree…but I AM still drinking eggnog with rum!

pnlkotula said...

Join the droopy tree club, Jake. Fire hazard, shmire hazard. Who has time? Although I did actually pull the boxes out of the closet this afternoon! And, to stay on topic, I do hope someone will get out to see Algernon. As I said in another post, Paul is wonderful (as are the rest of the cast) - and we're not in tech yet.