Future of EncoreMichigan spelled out
DEARBORN, Mich.– As professional theatre slowly ramps up after a prolonged hiatus, EncoreMichigan is taking stock of what we will do and how we will do it going forward.
We have always done the best we could with the resources we have had. With fewer resources now, we will still do the best we can, but with changes.
When I took over the site from its founder, we had a standard. We would review all new openings that had at least four performances. This was the standard in large part because that was the threshold for Wilde Award consideration. Before COVID, that number could reach 230-240 openings in some years. That was a very challenging task to accomplish. I ended up doing as many as 70 of those a year. I can’t ever go back to that pace.
That level of work is not possible this year. Some of our critics are working out of market remotely, while a few aren’t comfortable going back to theaters with the pandemic severity being a moving target week to week and month to month.
Two or three of us are going to review as many shows as we can. And we are going to aggregate reviews from other sources to have as many reviews in EncoreMichigan.com as possible. We don’t have the manpower to maintain the show calendar unfortunately. But we will post show announcements, season announcements, auditions and job postings.
The Wilde Awards this past year were different than past years, but in many ways more satisfying. We will see where we are as the season progresses to see if we have a way to do them again the same way at the end of this season.
As far as shows we will review…that will be determined by the availability of critics. The old system was that critics would sign up for shows they wanted, and I would mostly take the shows that either I wanted to review, as well as the shows not taken by other critics. We would also try to see them all in their opening weekend.
Going forward, we are going to see and review shows for which we have time and available critics. And we are always looking for additional, qualified critics who want to join the team.
Over the last 18 months, I pondered getting rid of EncoreMichigan. As theatre has started to bloom again, I think it would be better for us to keep going as best we can. It does mean that some shows likely won’t get reviewed. For this, I am sorry. But as we have gotten used to saying, “It is what it is.”
We are so glad that theatre is re-awakening in Michigan and elsewhere. It was sad to see some companies fold. But we are confident that new companies will take their places.
Be safe. And break legs.