Every couple of weeks, the group will be issued a
"challenge entry". The site will post a excerpt from the challenge entries, as
well as the link to the complete entry found on the journaller's own journal site.
SEAL OF THE CONFESSIONAL
November 14, 2000
This is one of those times I wish Id thought ahead to make this an anonymous journal, to choose some clever nom de plume, to keep it secret from everyone who knows me. But no. I had to blab it to everyone, use my own name, and invite the world to read it. So now Im stuck with making a true confession to the entire world and just hope that it doesnt get back to the people who shouldnt hear it.
Walt and I went off to see the touring production of Ragtime on Friday night. This is part of the Broadway series that I get to review and this was one of the shows I was most eager to see. Beauty and the Beast had been a delight and for a change we sat in the good seats--you know--the ones that you gaze down at longingly from the nosebleed section? We were 10th row center. It was a fabulous show and I was delighted to be there, and gave it 5 stars.
Ragtime had come highly recommended. Jeri saw it on Broadway and loved it. My friend Laura told me it was her very favorite Broadway show. I was really eager to see it and settled in expectantly as the lights dimmed in the theatre.
One thing I learned that night is that I need to be sure to get a full night of sleep before I head off to review a show. Ive been backed up on dictation, so doing my usual bed by midnight/up at 4 a.m. to work business, which I am quite accustomed to by now. Only the problem is that no matter how entertaining a movie / television program / stage show (apparently) is, being in a dark room in a comfortable seat will put me to sleep. (...and I dont even drink so I cant blame an ill-advised glass of wine with dinner!)
Thank God Walt was there. He kept elbowing me as I nodded off. (He told me later that the guy on the other side of him also had a reviewer packet with him and he was sleeping too and Walt was tempted to elbow him as well!). I got a lot of elbowing. My eyes were open and I was listening to a lot of the show, in between cat naps, but my brain processed nothing and at the end of the show I realized, in a panic, that I had no clue whether this was a good show or not, and that there was no way I could review this show based on personal observation. Im sure Im not the first reviewer to be faced with the task of writing a review of a show she has slept through, but I didnt expect it would come while I was still so new at this!
One thing I got from it was that it was rather operatic in form, rather than a lot of musical theatre. And then some friends who were there mentioned that it was kind of like an opera, wasnt it? ...so I knew I could safely compare it to an opera. That was a beginning. But it fell somewhat short of a 650 word review, even if I added the names of all the cast, the alternates, all the producers, and the groom of the second floor front. I had no choice. I cheated.
Thank God for the Internet. I researched all sorts of reviews on Ragtime. The general consensus (if you go by the shows official web site) is that this is the greatest thing to cross the Broadway Stage since Ethel Merman retired. The review blurbs were all outstanding raves. I certainly didnt feel comfortable going to any extremes about a show that kept me snoring all evening. Then I found a few negative reviews. Not terribly negative, but negative enough to present a differing opinion. Swell. Now I had both sides represented.
Jeri called. I talked with her about her impressions when she saw it on Broadway. She pointed out some lighting/costume/choreography blends that were pretty spectacular to her and I took notes. I figured that would make me sound knowledgeable, since nobody had picked that up in any of the reviews I read. It was the sort of thing that a techie would notice and Jeri has a good eye.
I had also done some eavesdropping among the crowd in the lobby and everyone seemed quite excited about the production, so I figured I could be fairly safe giving it a good review, with reservations (the sound system prevented the lyrics from being clear enough to understand the plot in many spots).
Naturally, I let the weekend pass before even starting to write, but the review was due this morning and I couldnt put it off any longer. I sat here with my reviewer packet on one side of me, my cheat sheets (the other reviews) on the other side of me, this mornings Sacramento Bee review of the same performance on my computer screen, and I began to type. I didnt exactly plagiarize, but I did liberally swipe whole paragraphs from other reviews. Oh, I didnt use them verbatim. I changed sentence structure, used the thesaurus to find alternative words, rewrote bits so they sounded like me. I felt very evil, but the only alternative was to admit I hadnt actually seen the damn show and I couldnt do that. I remember there was a reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle once whose reviews were mostly plot summaries.
So I figured I was safe with sticking to a plot summary for this show, with pointed side comment. That seemed to work. When it was finished, I e-mailed it to Walt to ask him if it hung together all right. He seemed to think it sounded OK, with a couple of minor bits of tweaking. So I took a deep breath and e-mailed it off to the entertainment editor. He didnt call, so I guess the thing was OK.
But the moral of the story is very definitely not only do your homework before a show, but try to get more than 4 hours of sleep, especially if its a brand new show to you. I reviewed Oliver! the other day and I could easily have done that show in my sleep, I know it so well.
Now that Ive confessed my great sin for the week, Im
feeling better. Unless, of course, the entertainment editor has taken to reading my
journal. Or unless one of you guys rats on me. You wont...will ya?
|created 11/5/00 by Bev Sykes|