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re: Idina and Goldsberry are inspired choices
Posted by: Singapore/Fling 02:00 pm EDT 08/15/22
In reply to: re: Idina and Goldsberry are inspired choices - Chazwaza 04:23 am EDT 08/15/22

A few odds and ends:

You're operating under a false assumption that ITW was a summer production. It was not. It was the third show in a three-show season, the same way as Oliver will be. (Effectively, Lear has combined what used to be the summer show into the regular season, and it's paying dividends.) I think you've made this mistake honestly, but in doing so, you have created for yourself a narrative where Encores! only had two shows: a lukewarm "Tap Dance Kid" and a divisive "The Life". If that was the entire season, then yes, she'd be in trouble. But that wasn't the season, and so everything else you're saying doesn't hold water, because its springs from the false fallacy that ITW was a summer show.

A couple odds and ends:

In terms of Ruthie, it is heartless, but that's theater. From the perspective of the Board, all that really matters is that the theater get a lot of juicy press. It's one of the reason I spent the last two years questioning if I wanted to stay in this business. But also the key thing, I think, is that you brought up Burstein as the Baker saying it might make his performance better; I brought up Miles saying it would make her story the center of the press campaign.

The press aspect is also why we can definitively say she has made Encores! cultural relevant... because ITW is getting all kinds of glowing writes up in the press, including feature articles about the cast. That's what Boards see as "culturally relevant".

And Boards are ultimately who run theaters. Not missions. Lear's job isn't to fulfill the mission, it's to make the Board happy. I think a lot of us who work in theater tell ourselves that we're fulfilling a mission, but we're not, we're fulfilling a board.

I think that people's reaction to "The Life" comes down to whether they thought the original was a good show. I'm in the category that thought it was uniquely terrible, so while I found the new version at Encores! a weird hot mess, but it was a hot mess that did some interesting things with a bad show. Of course, if you liked the original, then what Lear brought us was a desecration. Either way, she took a big risk, and she suffered the consequences; no, not that a bunch of cranks on the internet didn't like it, but that it simply didn't sell tickets.

And you have to sell tickets, even as a non-profit, because ticket sales are the metric that are used for all fund-raising, and fund-raising is the number one priority of non-profits. Again, the goal isn't to fulfill the mission, the goal is to raise funds. If you doubt that, look how much the fund-raisers are being paid versus the artistic staff. So when "The Life" played to half-empty houses, that was the real problem... and one she rectified with this big success.
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