Should actors keep their mouths shut?


As a critic, unless special permission has been granted by a theater company, I’m honor-bound not to write about a show if I see it prior to opening night . Case in point: I attended Goodspeed Opera House’s production of “Carousel” last week and, as impressed as I was, it would be bad form for me to say more here or in my print column.

For other audience members, though, commenting on previews has become standard, with the internet filled with opinions about not-yet-officially-opened shows.

Which brings us to Morgan James, a woman who had some definite opinions about the first preview of the New York Shakespeare Festival’s free, Central Park production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” starring Amy Adams and Donna Murphy.

Like many theatergoers have done and will continue to do, she tweeted her harsh thoughts, including “I fear musicianship is dead in musical theatre. And acting, for that matter.” She added the hashtag #horrified.

What makes this messy is that Morgan James is an actress, recently appearing in the Broadway revival of “Godspell” (which, FYI, didn’t get particularly good reviews). Now she’s faced with a strong backlash against the comments that she posted (and later, removed and apologizes for).

To be sure, the woman has a right to her opinion. But does that theater community also have the right to have its own honor the sanctity of previews? Is tweeting the same as publishing an opinion? Should fellow thesps at least hold their tongues until a show officially opens?

I’m curious to hear from the Indy acting community as well as from other IBJ readers about this. Did James violate a code of honor among artists? And would it make a difference if she raved about the show?

Your thoughts? 

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Editor's note: IBJ is now using a new comment system. Your Disqus account will no longer work on the IBJ site. Instead, you can leave a comment on stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Past comments are not currently showing up on stories, but they will be added in the coming weeks. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.