Sunday, November 23, 2008

Susie's Sizzle - "A Warm Holiday Treat"

Posted by Bruce Miller
I know I'm not supposed to care about reviews. But the truth is, I rush to read Ms. Haubenstock's opinion the minute I wake up on a Sunday morning following a Friday opening night.

I form my own opinion about whether a show has opened well or not before the first set of bowing actors return to an upright position. And that opinion seldom changes based on the opinions of the critics. I respect what the critics have to say, but sometimes I agree and sometimes I don't.

I'm a producer as well as a director. And any producer who tells you s/he doesn't care about reviews is pulling your leg. Historically, a good review in the Times-Dispatch is worth about $20,000 at the Barksdale box office. And for this I'm not supposed to care?!

Anyway, I was thrilled to read Susan Haubenstock's review this morning of Sanders Family Christmas. It's a review that will sell tickets. And it will make all the artists involved, including myself, happy because she says nice things about everybody. I read the review, and immediately felt a 20,000 lb. weight lift from my shoulders.

In order to meet budget, Theatre IV and Barksdale combined need to sell about $70 K worth of tickets and tour shows and raise about $30 K in contributions every week of the year. Our $5.2 million annual budget covers the cost of a staff of 40 or so who are paid every two weeks, over a hundred theatre artists who are paid for performances, the mortgage and/or rent payments on four major facilities, and significant other expenses. Meeting budget is not an easy task in today's economy. Susie's nice review will help in all quarters.

Here are the quotes I'll be hanging in the Tavern lobby:

Runs away with the audience’s hearts
Expertly Handled ~ Just Right
Old hymns and beautiful harmonies warm the soul
The humor is gentle; the laughs are big;
the smiles don’t quit
A Warm Holiday Treat!”

--Susan Haubenstock, Richmond Times-Dispatch

Best of all, in my opinion, every word of the praise is deserved. This great cast and design team manage the impossible--they deliver a very corny and sentimental script with the utmost sincerity, winning laughs and tears while maintaining complete respect and affection for their oversized characters. And on top of all that they play a whole orchestra of bluegrass instruments and sing fit to beat the band.

Aly, Billy Christopher, David J., Drew, Emily, Eric, Julie, Brad, Catherine, Christina, David P., Jeannie, Slade, Sue and Terrie are the BEST. I loved the show on opening night, and I believe it will be a huge hit.

If you have the chance to see it, and if you have an open heart, I think you'll have a grand time.

I hope to see you at the theatre!

--Bruce Miller


Steven Koehler said...


I wince a little whenever I think about the size of the payroll.
Congratulations on another great review. The cast and team is so talented that I am not surprised. I only wish I was closer to Richmond so that I could see the show myself.

I wish all of the Barksdale/Theatre IV family a very safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

Anonymous said...

I saw the show last weekend and have been telling all my friends they have to go. I haven't left a theater feeling so good in years. What a warm and sweet, funny and musically gifted cast. I liked it even more than Smoke on the Mountain. It's a real pick-me-up for the soul.

Courtney Ahern