Reviewing the Reviewer – Sherman Ave Edition

Well hi there! For those of you just joining us, this is going to be me picking apart a poorly written review. Now I have worked as a theatre reviewer, and the first review I wrote was a negative one. So I completely understand that negative reviews can be important and informative. My negative reviews were not, however, unnecessarily mean, and I was not desperately trying to sound clever. So, let’s get started.

  1. Alright, so right of the bat, the beginning of the review has NOTHING to do with the show. The annual production is known as The Dolphin Show, so it’s only natural that your mind would jump to sex. No? Huh. Well, that is where this review started off in a ham-fisted segue that says dolphins (the animal, not people working on the production…I’m pretty sure) are an animal that has recreational sex, but you wouldn’t want to after…seeing the show. If you’re a little lost, welcome to the club. I get it, the website Sherman Ave likes to seem raunchy and edgy. They don’t play by the rules! This review quips that, “It’s quite a feat for a musical to lower the sex drive of its audience members.” Is it though? Call me crazy, but when I hear “musical” my first thought is not about how hot it gets me. Don’t get me wrong, I get it. I mean, I haven’t seen it personally, but I hear Seussical gets pretty crazy. Still, this opening paragraph just seems like it really had to reach on that one. With enough effort, absolutely everything can be connected to sex. Waa-mu? Like cats? Cats in heat? (and that’s just the cleanest thing I thought of). My Daily ‘Gurts? Yogurt is a food that you could eat off of a person, or post hanky-panky. You’ll notice I never have made this connection until now because it is irrelevant and has nothing to do with my blog. But that’s me.
  2. Next, the weird and unnecessary comments about the house not being full. Little Shop did not have a full house opening night, that is completely accurate, and was pointed out by other, more professional reviews as well. It was what followed that came across as…well, you read it. It read, “In those empty seats, one might have seen the empty dreams of the actors–soon-to-be service industry workers–that were about to take the stage of this theatrical tour de bores.” Soon-to-be service industry workers? Really? Say what you will about theatre majors (hell, I am one and I have said PLENTY), but these ones did still get into Northwestern…That is a weird insult to begin with, and it covers a lot of bases. It simultaneously makes assumptions about the talented actors on stage, and insults service industry workers. I’m not easily “offended,” but no one deserves to be insulted for the job they have. So if you want to throw out oddly personal insults, say that they will work as the staff in YOUR home or company, since clearly you are not a very kind and would likely be a difficult employer to work for. (By the way, that was an educated guess based on the review I read, not a random jab at a group of hardworking students.) I am a HUGE pun fan, but “tour de bores” had no kick because of the sudden and radical change in tone. Unnecessarily mean commentary to dad-joke-esq. puns? Why?
  3. I’m just going to skim over the complaints (and I am paraphrasing) about “how much did this production cost?” and “is this what my tuition money is going toward???” The show did kick off with tech problems, completely accurate. The sound wasn’t working and people were confused. Then, after about two minutes, the show was paused and the sound was fixed. The show started over and went off without any big issues (which is a feat for ANY live theatre). As far as your tuition money…really? All of our money goes toward everything. That’s what happens when you attend a college that offers multiple majors. If you were so worried about your tuition money, you should have looked into the school before attending. This is the 75th year of the Dolphin Show and, I hate to break it to you, but that means it has happened 74 times already. Some might even say it is associated with the theatre department of this school (but that’s just conjecture). Also, I know the editor’s note was added later, but I cannot help but chuckle reading, “Throughout the play, the plant grows and grows, much like my anger at knowing that my tuition money went towards building a giant, green, political statement” and then reaching the bottom of the page and seeing, “Editor’s Note: Congratulations to all who performed in and worked on “Little Shop of Horrors,” you were marvelous.  Also fuck Trump.” First, thank you to the thoughtful editor who gave the actors a shout out. That was sweet. But back to the point, my anger just keeps growing that my tuition goes toward student groups like Sherman Ave, smacking me in the face with political opinions right after complaining about exactly that.
  4. Alright, next comes a paragraph complaining about the plot of a notoriously goofy play that was based off a film by Alan Menken (not written by students). Really? You are going to nit-pick about whether it is romantic to grow a flower, (which, for the record, is also not what happens, but whatever) in a show about a talking plant that SPOILER: eats people and then takes over the entire world? An interesting approach, though not a terribly effective one.
  5. I think my favorite part of this review is referring to the show as, “a major offense to American musical theater as a whole.” That is assuming a lot about musical theatre. I mean, I have seen some ROUGH productions. But since you have apparently seen all of it, I would like to speak on behalf of all Sherman Ave readers and thank you for your insights.

Not only is this piece needlessly hostile, it doesn’t flow well. My advice: nothing sounds stupider than trying to sound clever. Just write. For reference, picture a little kid who just learned a bunch of big words. They use them constantly to try to seem grown up, but it just makes them seem younger and more naive than ever, because they are reaching and you can hear how hard they are trying.

If you think this review was too mean, it is very possible. Which is why I wrote it on my personal blog — because people read this with the full knowledge that they are getting my take on things (or, they choose not to read it because they are getting my take on things).

Also, I realize that I did not provide the full text. If you are curious, it can be found on the Sherman Ave website.


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