Baz Bamigboye’s preview of Betty Blue Eyes raises questions over when is a preview actually an early review?

Baz Bamigboye

Baz Bamigboye

As you may know from previous columns, we are in awe of Baz Bamigboye, the Daily Mail’s veteran showbiz reporter.

The Stage may have popped husband and wife double-act Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire of Ambassador Theatre Group at the top of their power 100 list for 2011, but really the honour should go to Baz, whose Friday column sets the agenda for theatre and film news for the week.

But it’s interesting that his piece this week about Betty Blue Eyes, Cameron Mackintosh’s big new musical project which is in previews at the Novello Theatre, is dangerously close to a review:

  • “Sarah Lancashire was a revelation to me as the snooty wife of Reece Shearsmith’s chiropodist. And Ann Emery, as ‘Mother Dear’, almost steals the production from everyone, including the pig.”
  • “Adrian Scarborough is terrific as Wormwold, the Nazi-esque food inspector.”
  • “Betty Blue Eyes could be the King’s Speech of London theatre. Because, frankly, it’s adorable.”

Baz sidesteps the strict protocol that exists between producers and critics that reviews should not be published until the official opening night of the production because he’s at the sparkly showbiz end of arts journalism rather than the hardened, haven’t-seen-daylight-since-1973 career critic. But should this be so?

The hoo-hah over New York critics breaking ranks with producers to review Spider-Man on Broadway in previews, and Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s fury with bloggers for previewing Love Never Dies before it’s First Night, has brought the subject into focus more than ever.

We love you Baz, and we love your scoops (which feed most theatre website’s gossip pages, including this one) but is a scoop sometimes a puff piece masquerading as a review?

 

Paul Raven