You've got a playwright, actors, set designer, costumer, lighting engineer, sound engineer, musicians, composer, lyricist, director and producer, plus it's live every night and anything can happen.
Live theater is an adventure. There's nothing else like it.
As a reviewer, I'm like everyone else: I want to see the light. I want to be lifted out of my seat and into the world of the performance. When the new 'My Fair Lady' comes along I want to rush out and tell you about it. When the show comes up short, I want to figure out why.
In San Francisco, we are blessed with world-class premiere houses, astonishingly good local companies and excellent regional theater. But theater tickets cost real money. I want you to feel a little more secure before you punch BUY.
EXPLANATION OF NEW IMPROVED RATINGS SYSTEM
Our Ratings System has been revamped! Half Stars have been eliminated. Capitalized BANGLES of PRAISE and italicized baubles of despair take their place.
BANGLES are good, and the more the merrier. A ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG BANG rating is better than a ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG rating.
baubles are bad. A ☼ ☼ ☼ baub baub rating is worse than a ☼ ☼ ☼ baub rating. A ☼ ☼ ☼ baub would drop the show below ☼ ☼ ☼, which is the coveted Julie Andrews Line. Below the Julie Andrews Line we recommend you do not spend your Do, Re or Mi.
Note that using this system, a ☼ ☼ BANG is roughly the same as a ☼ ☼ ☼ baub. Neither would be recommended.
A ☼ ☼ ☼ show must have something excellent about it, and it has to involve the story. Great acting helps, terrific staging too. But it's got to be in the writing and the actors have to bring the story alive. It can be big or small, short or long. Just don't bore us. If you do: No Julie Andrews.
☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ are rare. For a show to earn this rating, it must not only be very good but it must also move us. We need to grow during those two acts plus intermission and we need to be surprised. The author must make us go "AH-HAH! THAT'S what he was getting at!" He must tell a perfect story and the actors must deliver. Uproarious, drooling laughter will always help. Deadening angst plus hopeless and depressing poverty makes it harder.
☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ are practically impossible. They probably need to involve amazing music and a set you can't take your eyes off in addition to everything else that makes up a Four Star production. In Plotnik's 10 years of reviewing theater in the Bay Area, he has given ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ to only one show: Jersey Boys. And it didn't hurt that Frankie Valli was in the audience on Opening Night and tottered up onto stage to hug the actor portraying him.
We hope our NEW IMPROVED awards system adds to your enjoyments. Please contact me if you feel I have forgotten something obvious. I am in Spain, where it is raining.
BANG An especially fine moment
baub A particularly irritating moment
<¿> Something incomprehensible, where you scratch your chin and go "Waa-huhhh?"
L-R Special category for David Mamet and Sam Shepard plays. Amount of times you squirm in your seat.