Reviews are funny things. When they’re bad, you say they don’t matter, but when they’re great…well, they feel really nice. After ten years, we’re kind of used to getting reviews – they do tend to even out after a while – but when we got our first reviews – ooh, the drama of it. The good ones were never good enough (But didn’t they SEE what we were trying to do, how IMPORTANT the story is, how CLEVER that song was) and the bad ones were like someone had quickly pulled your pants down, had everyone laugh at you, then punched you in the chest.
When you’re in New York, the cliche goes that it’s only the Times review that matters. Which is funny. Except that it’s true. Or seems to be. Off-Broadway shows don’t necessarily get their Times review the night after opening, ours took about a week, I think. And the producers would get more and more tense waiting for the verdict to be handed in. It didn’t matter that we already knew it was a third-string critic who’d attended – Sir Brantley wasn’t going to give the royal thumbs up or down – but still, there was a palpable feeling that the Times review would create a buzz around the show that couldn’t otherwise occur (the internet hadn’t really been mined for it’s magical word-of-mouth powers in 2002). So, night after night, we’d wait at the loading dock of the Times to get the first copy and see if it was in that day. The one night we didn’t go, of course, was the night it went in. And it was good. Pleasant. As well-written as a Taylor Swift song. Said nice things about the actors, the show, the production – nothing to get angry about, but nothing to get passionate about either. The world didn’t change, the world didn’t end.
We’d picked the Times up before breakfast, because we’d heard it was in – there’s a photo floating around somewhere that Matt took just as I opened the paper to read it. We read it. We ate our eggs.
For us, the most exciting part wasn’t what the review said, but the very fact that we’d written a show that actually got reviewed in the New York Times. No-one’s opinion could alter that fact.