UK Cabaret managing editor Mark Ritchie recalls some of the high-spots and low points in his long career as an entertainer and show business journalist.
Entertainers who moan about reviews they are unhappy with soon became part and parcel of life as a reviewer during my 16 years with The Stage newspaper. Nowadays reviews in UK Cabaret are still the most read part of the content we produce, but the complaints still come in, mostly via that great platform for the self-absorbed that is Facebook.
AT UK Cabaret we have our own FB site of course, which our excellent online content manager Martin Brown uses cleverly and effectively, in an effort to direct readers to our web-site. Recent review dissenters have included a husband who thought we were unfair in stating that his talented singing wife should wear stage tights with a formal gown, instead of appearing bare-legged. Another moan came from a lady who thought I was wrong in pointing out that ladies of a certain dress size were less likely to obtain cruise ship cabaret work. Some bookers have told me that tattooed people are also less likely to be hired in certain areas of show business and having written that fact in review form, I was dismissed by some young tattooed singers as ‘old fashioned’. One rather precious sounding gentleman recently took Umbridge with me for describing him and his stage duo partner as ‘two hefty lads’, dismissing my review as ‘venomous’, when I would argue that the type of high-energy act they were presenting would be better performed if the aforementioned hefty lads managed to drop a few pounds in weight.
Once all of the above appears in review form, the hubris is unleashed in the entertainer’s mind. Although, if they were being honest, most bookers and showcase audience members would agree with certain observational points with a review, it is the writer of the review who is the messenger who will inevitable get shot at, figuratively speaking of course.
It is all par for the course and the back-stabbing that comes with the job has to be water off a duck’s back. A successful reviewer will always be thick-skinned and not easy to intimidate, especially given the bile and vitriol delivered by the FB keyboard-warriors, once unfavourable reviews are published.
I have worked and been re-booked in theatre, Clubland, cruise ship cabaret and holiday centre work. I know what it takes to go on stage and do the business. I have paid my dues. After all, I’m just a fat, old comic who sings a bit and certain people may opine that my act is no good, but the phone has kept ringing ever since I turned professional in 1983.
Despite these credentials, it seems there will always be someone who will say in public or write on Facebook, when they feeling peeved, that I am rubbish and know nothing. O well…..