JAN: I went to see Menopause, the musical, Thursday night at the Trinity Repertory Theater in Providence, and it's a play that I've been wanting to see for a long time and never got around to it. Anyway, the production was terrific, well staged, great singing, great comedic acting, and fun songs. The three women I went with, along with the rest of the audience, couldn't possibly have had a better time.
But I was -- and I hate to admit this -- just the tiniest bit disappointed. And it had nothing to do with the actual performance. I kept thinking that I'd wished I'd seen the play when it first came out, when it was fresh and seemed more over-the-top. So I'm pretty sure my reaction really had to do with my expectations.
They'd been built up to a point where the real thing just couldn't satisfy them. I remember once when Bill and I went to see the movie Bonfire of the Vanities. It had gotten terrible reviews, and we had been planning to see another movie that was sold out, so we decided to just hold our nose and see it. Because our expectations were so low, we really liked the movie. So I'm wondering, do you think that your own expectations color your response to plays, movies, concerts, books -- maybe a bit unfairly?? Have any of you been burned or assisted by what you, yourself, bring to the show?
RHYS: I was recently taken by a group of friends to see Jersey Boys. That was another play I'd been dying to see. It was the Broadway touring cast and the singing was outstanding, but again I was reminded of the old Peggy Lee song, "Is that all there is?" It was too loud, for one thing and no great scenery, no special effects, no big production numbers which I love in a musical (I'm a sucker for 42nd Street and its big tap routines).
I don't know about you but I find that recent musicals are sadly lacking. Where are those songs that everyone keeps singing as they leave the theater? Where are the good stories? I just wish that Rogers and Hammerstein were still alive.
ROBERTA: Ruh-oh, I just convinced my sister to spend the big bucks to see Jersey Boys on Broadway. I'm going to try not to expect too much! I think this happened with my husband reading THE HELP. By the time he got around to it, I had raved about it so much that maybe it couldn't possibly live up to what he expected. For me, it was a surprise love affair, head over heels. On the other hand, look at the folks who salivate for the latest in a popular author's series, like the Harry Potters. Expectations certainly haven't seemed to hurt her sales!
HANK: Oh, did you see the broadway musical Titanic? It was supposed to be fabulous, but we saw the touring company version, and it was--so pitiful. The scenery looked as if it were drawn by first graders. (But not as cute.) On the other hand, everyone told me Wicked was fantastic fantastic--and I worried--could it be *that* good? And yes, it was.
But Jan, I heard Shutter Island, the movie, was terrible. So we netflixed it, just to see--and I thought it was terrific! SO maybe I was giving it the benefit of the doubt--because I expected it to be bad.
RO: I'm frequently disappointed by things that are overhyped. Some recent bestsellers - which shall remain nameless - have left me thinking "What's the big deal?
" Okay I'll mention one. Universally lauded, soon to be a major motion picture. A bunch of over-privileged, underachieving Upper West Side thirty-somethings who are genuinely surprised that they are not more successful than they are when they haven't done anything to merit the adulation they crave. I was so bored I started to count the number of times the heroine folded and unfolded her coltish legs. And every time the "he said, she said" story lagged, the author threw in a mention of Tolstoy - to remind us that this wasn't an episode of Sex and the City, but a work of serious fiction. Ack.
OTOH, I loved Jersey Boys! Who knew I was such a Four Seasons fan. The lyrics must have been laying (lying?) dormant in my brain for decades. You'll have fun. Then again...I had fun at Mamma Mia so there's no accounting for taste.
HALLIE: So interesting... yes expectations do affect how I react. Expect the worst and you can never be disappointed! Not a great philosophy of life, however. The same dynamic is at work when you 'discover' something that no one told you about - the pleasure of finding a great book/movie/restaurant/city/food, of discovering for yourself is lovely. Like eating capers on Crete. Who knew capers could taste that good? It's one of my pleasures as a book reviewer, reading books that I know absolutely nothing about and finding the one that knocks off my socks.
RO: I bet they're like the capers in Sicily. Yum. Welcome home!
JAN- Don't know if I could listen through an hour and a half of Abba music, but I loved Jersey Boys, too! Also capers. In any country.
Come tell us if and how your own expectations color your reviews.