Reviews… We Love To Hate Them

It’s just another show day as I sit in my dressing room. Our room is filled with laughter and music as we get ready for our show. It’s one hour before show time and emotions are high. We are in the middle of a run and I feel really good about my performance and show so far. Our stage manager calls five minutes to sound check, then SUDDENLY, someone yells, “REVIEWS ARE IN!” Anxiety, excitement, and fear are the three emotions that come to mind. Did they LIKE me? Did they HATE me? Did they NOTICE me? I think to myself… oh gosh, this is my first big lead and these reviews could make or break me. What if I get a horrible review, will I ever be cast again? Or am I finally going to be recognized for all of my hard work? Should I read this before my show? Probably not the best idea because it might mess with my performance… but one little peek won’t hurt. 

I’m sure many of you can relate to the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with reading reviews, especially your first ones. You ALWAYS remember your first. Mine? Well, it’s a bit pathetic but I was the lead in a show and I was not mentioned ONCE in the review. As actors, we get so much praise from our friends, family, and audience members but as soon as one bad review comes in, all of that goes out the window. Sounds silly right? Well, it is. Why is it that we feel like all of the years of hard work comes down to a few words online? The fact is that reviews are intimidating, but they don’t have to be.

Last week, I ran a poll asking South Florida Theater Actors how reviews make them feel. 24% of  them say they feel anxious, causing them to self-doubt. Another 24% of actors say they don’t take their time to worry about it. The last 52% say they have a love/hate relationship with reviews. As actors, we LOVE a good review. It makes us feel like we can reach for the stars! So what do we do? We share it with the world to see… on social media, of course! On the other side of things, the worst feeling is seeing your other cast members rave about their great reviews, while your name wasn’t mentioned. Comparison starts to kick in and you begin to go down the path of self-doubt… questioning your value, your skills, and your talent. 

One of my friends said she was mentioned in a review that called her, “The voice of an angel,” later to read another article that said, “It was not the best I have seen.” Sometimes, the best emotion to have is laughter for these kinds of reviews.  Another actress shared that she got a GLOWING  article once… to find her name was spelled wrong. Lastly, these are my favorites, the reviews that are basically a synopsis of the show. We really seem to have a love/hate relationship with reviews, we do have a lengthy history with them. The most important thing to remember is that no opinion or set of words can diminish the sparkle you have inside. Remember that it is but ONE opinion and that you will go on to perform in shows no matter what they say! I’m going to remind myself the next time I get a review, but until then, I’ll see you next month.

The Off The Record blog will provide a free space for actors to share their thoughts and opinions about the theater industry. Each month there will be a question or topic posted on my personal instagram (@jessie_dez) where actors can anonymously take part in while having their identities protected. As an actress myself, I want to give my theater community a place of no judgment and no matter what your opinion is, just know I will understand where you’re coming from. Just as you confide in me, I will confide in you and if you’re still skeptical then let me earn your trust. Again, this is a safe place for all of  YOU, my lovely theater community.  

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