Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last Old Business

A couple of minor matters as the year ends... A few weeks ago a cast member of Ferndale Rep's production of Oliver! wrote a well-expressed and very respectful letter to the editor published in the NC Journal, lamenting the fact that I did not review that show in that newspaper. Since I didn't see the letter until it was published--as strange as that may sound--I want to respond here to a couple of her points.

"I miss the reviews of a few years ago, when a potential audience member got a little taste of what they could expect," she writes. Unless she is missing the reviews by my predecessors, she may have completely missed my reviews of Ferndale Rep productions I've done this year: Crimes of the Heart (October), Jekyll and Hyde (Aug.), Arsenic and Old Lace (May), The Wild Guys (Feb.), which I believe is 4 out of the last 6 shows there.

She described my preview of Oliver! as "a little blurb buried underneath another show's review." It did appear second to a review of the Dell'Arte Christmas show, but the preview was five paragraphs, and the review was seven. It was also featured in the column's subhead, and was the third consecutive mention of the show in my last three columns.

Lastly, I haven't seen any credible evidence that my reviews, positive or negative, have increased or depressed attendance anywhere. Apparently the opening night for Oliver! was sold out, quite a feat for the large Ferndale Rep theatre.

On another matter, my year-end column is in this week's Journal, and online here. Bear with me, but I have to quibble about one editorial change. In an apparent effort to prevent the repetition of the word "simple," it was changed to "basic" in the following paragraph:

If you know anything about baseball, you realize (and probably relish) that it’s a fiendishly complicated game, and playing it well is difficult. But it’s also very simple. As the fictional manager of a minor league team in the classic movie Bull Durham tells his players: “This is a simple game. You throw the ball. You hit the ball. You catch the ball.”

In the published version, the second sentence reads: "But it's also very basic." In this context, "basic" and "simple" simply don't mean the same thing. Something can be basic without being simple, for instance.

I realize I don't mention the editorial changes that correct my mistakes or that otherwise improve the piece, so as the year ends I'll acknowledge generally that this happens, and I'm grateful to the editors who make those corrections and improvements. Happy New Year to all.

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