by Byron Woods
The first week of the British blockbuster Nicholas Nickleby closes tonight at Playmakers Rep -- and we are looking for the buzz on the show.
Why? For some reason, journalists aren't being allowed to see Part I until its "official" opening, on Nov. 21 -- at the end of its second week.
Conventional Playmakers productions open with three weeknights of previews before critics are permitted in on a gala—and inevitably papered—Saturday opening night. But after previews Wednesday through Friday, Nov. 11-13, Nicholas Nickleby Part I then goes dark for eight days, until Saturday, Nov. 21.
In a second scheduling quirk, if critics don’t catch the full production on that day—in a back-to-back marathon running from 2 p.m. until 10:30 that night (not counting the party afterward)—they won’t be able to see the complete show until the end of the month. After its official opening night, Part II then goes off stage for eight days, until Nov. 29.
One of the results of this arrangement: The earliest professional review anyone will read of the full production won’t publish—anywhere—before the start of the show’s third week.
Since—for some reason—the critics are being kept out of the mix until the third week of the biggest show in Playmakers' history, the court of public opinion will have to take their place.
One thing's for certain: your comments below will likely be the only public critical commentary permitted on this show before Thanksgiving week.
So by all means, let the deliberations begin: Who saw Part I this week? How was it? Given the pre-show hype, is Nicholas Nickleby really the theatrical bombshell of the season? We -- and the theater-going public -- can't wait to learn.
Did Nicholas Nickleby sustain your interest? Who gave its most memorable performances? What was the show' strongest suit? What, if anything, needed more work? What surprised you the most about it?
Fill us -- all -- in. You may comment anonymously if you wish. There will be a delay before your words are posted, since we have to screen comments for spam. Never fear: We promise we'll publish all non-spam responses.