The "Music Man"

I stumbled into an interesting situation last Friday, which I bring up as this week’s philosophical pondering.

The Egyptian Theatre Company in Park City opened its production of “The Music Man,” and I went up to review it.

Because of traffic problems and because I misunderstood when the show was scheduled to begin, I walked into the theater about 4 minutes after the curtain went up.

I was horrified.

Sneaking into the back of the house, I was relieved to discover that I’d only missed the first scene. For those of you familiar with “The Music Man,” I missed “Rock Island,” one of my favorites. I was taking my seat as Harold said, “I don’t believe I dropped it.” That is the last line of the first scene.

Now this is not an attempt to make excuses, support lateness or be dismissive. I’m merely asking the question: Does missing a four-minute scene, in a show that runs 2 hours and 45 minutes, affect a review?

Does that make my review less credible? Should I have turned around and arranged to see the show on another night?

I was clearly mistaken about when the show began, and it’s my responsibility to look at my tickets.

I’m extremely familiar with “The Music Man,” so I don’t think missing one, four-minute scene renders me incapable of giving an honest, ethical review.

Had I missed 20 minutes of material, I absolutely would have gone back the next night. Had it been a show I hadn’t seen before, I absolutely would have seen it again.

If I had given a glowing review of the show, would anyone have cared when I arrived? Would I have received e-mails saying, “Whoa, who are you to say the show is good when you came in late?”

Can a sportswriter still comment on a game if he missed one play? Can you say a concert was great if you took a bathroom break and missed a song? Can a dinner be lovely if you didn’t stay for dessert?

I’m just asking. Because I’m still learning the ins and outs of this job, I’m curious what you think.

Having been a performer, I know how distracting it is to have someone wandering around the theater after the show begins — it’s rude and for that, I’m sorry.

I alerted my boss and the theater’s artistic director that I was late. I have nothing to gain by sneaking into shows late thinking no one will notice.

Your thoughts?

Leave a comment encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.