Mail Tests Friedman’s First Night Theory???
Date: 25 November 2004
The latest salvo in the critics versus producers (or more specifically, one producer, Sonia Friedman) has been fired by the Daily Mail. Earlier this month, Friedman caused a stir by proposing changes to the traditional first night system, saying that critics should attend shows alongside normal theatregoers rather than an invited crowd of friends, backers and celebrities (See The Goss, 10 Nov 2004). Though Friedman acquiesced on the start time (See The Goss, 19 Nov 2004), the first occasion to put her changes into practice was meant to be next Wednesday, 1 December 2004, the agreed press performance for Friedman’s production of Marina Carr’s new play By the Bog of Cats, starring Hollywood’s Holly Hunter. More than a week ahead of schedule, the Mail’s critic Quentin Letts decided to test the “excellent theory” of this “slightly bossy producer” by attending a preview of By the Bog of Cats. Letts, by the way, was the same critic who sneakily published a detailed “preview” of Mary Poppins three months before its London press night next month (See News, 24 Sep 2004). Luckily for Cameron Mackintosh et al, that was a rave. Unluckily, for Friedman and Hunter, Letts’ “first night review” of By the Bog of Cats, published in yesterday’s paper, was rather less complimentary. Whatsonstage.com understands that today Friedman has made personal phone calls to other national newspaper critics, asking them to respect the embargo and explaining her reasoning in more detail.
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