Like many Show-Score members, I count on the reviews of others in our online community to point me in the right theatrical direction. And after almost two years, I can often recognize who has written a review even without seeing the author’s name. No clairvoyance needed—just a well-honed sense of my fellow reviewers’ distinct approaches and opinions.
And while every Show-Score reviewer has their own voice, reviews still tend to fall into specific categories. Here are four review styles I see the most:
1. "I Love It All!"
Some reviewers give high reviews (scores of 90+) to almost every show they see. A typical “love it all” review goes a bit like this: "I adored this show while I was watching it; I sprang to my feet applauding at the end; and I left the theater singing those unforgettable songs!" To these light-hearted souls, the glass is ALWAYS half full.
Pro: Reading a review like this buoys your spirit and gets you pumped to see the show they reviewed. Heck, a review like this can renew your faith in humanity.
Con: I’m sorry to say I don’t think every show is great. As much as I enjoy reading these reviewers, they don’t necessarily give me much insight into the shows.
2. “Love It or Hate It”
A show can be the best of times or the worst of times—never just an okay time. “Love it or hate it” reviewers give sky-high scores to shows they like and very low scores (40 and below) to shows they don’t. A typical negative review: "Having trouble sleeping? This show will solve all your problems!"
Pro: These reviewers leave no doubt about whether to see a show or avoid it like the plague. Also, let’s be honest—hyperbole or not, a well-written evisceration can be wickedly fun to read.
Con: Most shows are neither the beatific vision of theater or the downfall of civilization as we know it. A so-so production can still have great acting; and the most stunning play may stumble over design—and readers ought to be told so, in detail. These reviewers sometimes miss the nuances of a show in pursuing their all-or-nothing point.
3. “My Personal Scoring System Explains It All”
Show-Score provides guidance as to what review scores should represent to the reader: 90-100: Excellent; 80-89: Great; 70-79: Good; 50-69: So-So, etc.
But some reviewers—myself included—layer their own system on top of that rubric to provide readers with a more personalized response. My scoring system looks like this: 90s, a must-see show; 80s, a should-see show; 70s, some aspects of the show make it worth seeing; less than 70, skip it.
Pro: The reviewer tries to provide nuanced guidance to an audience.
Con: This is an inherently idiosyncratic approach. My 85 is a “should see” while Show-Score’s is a “great”—not totally different, but not identical either. The reader should pay close attention to the reviewer’s detailed comments, both pro and con, before making a final call.
4. “Short and Sweet”
This style might represent the majority of Show-Score reviewers. They go with their first impression of a show. “I really liked that show but it was way too long." "The actors were great, but the songs, not so good." These reviewers are honest and no-nonsense, and they go with their gut.
Pro: These reviewers are making the most of Show-Score’s categories (Excellent, Good, etc.).
Con: Actually, I’m not sure if this is a “con” so much as an opportunity. Because these reviewers keep it short and sweet, you only build a full picture of the show by reading multiple user reviews—and isn’t that why we’re here?
What type of Show-Score reviewer are you? Do you fall into one of the categories described above or do you have your own unique way of scoring? We'd love to know!