Sitting in the Middle Row

Indianapolis, Indiana, Theater Reviews

anton-ego.-ratatouille-critics-quoteWhy the middle row?

When it comes to covering local theater, I try to find the happy medium between paying audience member and critic. These two perspectives are quite different. The audience members want to be entertained and get their money’s worth. This part is pretty easy. Did I like it? Did I laugh? Cry? Was it a good story? Did the people around me have good reactions?

The critic has to look more, well, critically, at what is happening on stage and also has to look past the plot of a play and into the play’s presentation (actors and directors should not be held responsible for a flawed script). What was the director’s vision? Was the lighting distracting? Are the costumes appropriate for the setting and period? Did the actors fully embody their characters? How was the blocking and/or choreography? If it’s a musical, how were the numbers? Does the ticket price accurately reflect what the audience can expect? (Yes, if a theater’s tickets are $50 as opposed to $15, I will have higher expectations of it, as well as if it’s an Equity house or not.) These are just some of the questions I ask myself when I write.

I try my best to walk this line between audience and performers, and I take it seriously. But I also have a lot of fun. I hope you do too.

 

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I have been reviewing local theater since 1998, at first for NUVO Newsweekly, with a hiatus from 2009 to 2015 after I had my son. You can now find my most recent reviews and feature stories there too. While I have written cover stories, feature stories, and whatnot, my focus at NUVO remains on local theater.

I initiated independent show reviews here on my blog in 2015 to help fill the gap of coverage where many publications work against space and budget constraints.

We are not alone! Read more voices here:

Plays with John and Wendy

Lou Harry’s A&E

Stage Write

Jay Harvey Upstage

 

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5 thoughts on “Sitting in the Middle Row

  1. Many years ago I would accompany Lisa to the theatres to watch plays that she was critiquing for a column she had at the time in NUVO. I was her “and guest” at many wonderful and less than wonderful plays (imagine a man dressed as a lobster playing his belly as a drum and you’ll understand the “less than wonderful” plays I endured with her).
    Lisa and I do not see eye to eye on politics, religion, or any other topic that one might construe as “important “. In fact I disagree with her on just about every subject. But no one has more respect of her opinions as a theatre critic than I do. This is a hat tip to you Lisa, and advice to anyone who doesn’t yet trust her opinion – Lisa is the very best at what she does and her opinion is a whole lot more thought out (informed and constructed) than yours. She knows what she is talking about when it comes to the theatre.
    Here’s to lobster boys banging on their bellys and champagne on opening night at IRT. Thank you so much for the wonderful plays Lisa! I hope you continue your critiques for a long time to come.

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    1. I’m humbled that you have my back after all these years. And grateful that you remember the guy using his belly as a drum so that I have someone to share that pain with. Thank you for your words when I needed them the most.

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