Oh, and my own opinion on the Louise Kennedy/Michael Maso dustup?
First, I don't understand what was so terrible about Kennedy's review of PIRATES! I mean, it's clear—she hated the play, totally and completely.
But is this really that unusual? Are we getting so soft that we're all forgetting what bad reviews look like? The lady hated the show--it's going to hurt, she hated it. She's very clear about what kind of things she thinks aren't working, and acknowledges from the top that the audience is laughing and happy--but she thinks it is an insipid piece of crap.
This isn't interesting. It becomes weird when the Huntington's Managing Director posts about the unfairness of the review, its elitism and asks people to protest with letters to the newspaper.
Call me old school, but what happened to IGNORING a bad review? I've played Boston—the Globe is indeed powerful, but you can't undo the bad review by writing MORE about it, or calling for PROTESTS. I never would have read this review without this publicity the Huntington provided—now I have. I don't think that's the result Mr. Maso was looking for.
There isn't a case for this being a discriminatory review, and there's no cause to make people band together united to support PIRATES! because of the review—that's crazy. Instead all they've managed to do is draw A LOT of attention to a deeply unfavorable review, which is sad for them because apparently they have lots of other reviews which are good. It's a total messaging clusterfuck.
I also believe Ms. Kennedy (disclosure: Ms. Kennedy has reviewed my work) is going to inevitably have a negative experience associated with being at the Huntington Theatre after this event. A critic is supposed to do their best to be impartial, but no one is a saint--this can't POSSIBLY be a good idea with someone Mr. Maso calls "the most powerful critic in New England".
I make fun of the word "professionalism" in the theater often, because it is often used as code for paying people nothing and relying on them not to say a peep.
But this is a failure of professionalism, pure and simple.
Don't comment on reviews. Then, when you think you should...don't comment on reviews. And when it seems like you couldn't lose, and that you MUST say something: don't comment on reviews. This is Theater Publicity 101, people.
Finally, from the TONY blog:
I know exactly how she feels. There are few people lonelier (the last guy off the Moon and onto the Lunar Lander?) than the unamused audience member having his chair kicked by a flailing, hiccuping laugher behind him. I myself sat through Christopher Durang’s Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them, grinding my molars into featureless stubs. And I started out not hating it—it just wasn’t my cup of tea. But as the man next to me actually slapped his thighs, mild dislike transformed into irritation, and then into angry disbelief, and then bang! I had a full-blown case of the “Everybody is crazy and perhaps there isn’t any hope for us after all”s.