Word of mouth has always had an effect on previewing Broadway shows because the creative players have often listened to the buzz (along with the live audience’s reaction) and tweaked their productions based on what they were hearing.
Many an actor, song, and wig have been kicked to the curb mainly because the public was buzzing that they found them absolutely intolerable, even though they’d gotten heavily discounted tickets.
But ever since the Broadway chat boards arose, word of mouth has gotten louder and more immediate than ever, and apparently it gets results.
For example, when it was previewing, the current Cat on a Hot Tin Roof revival featured the ghost of Skipper–the departed very close friend of the male lead, Brick–floating around the stage while the living characters talked and went about their business.
A lot of Broadway board chatters found this device ludicrous and intrusive, and their chatter became deafening. Then it made the papers, and bingo–Skipper’s really a ghost now. His specter is no longer seen.
Similarly, a poster on All That Chat who caught Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella the other night reported that changes have been implemented that seem to have taken chatter-board gripes to heart.
“Topical/political jokes? Not tonight. All gone.
“No ‘your majesty’s. Only ‘your highness’.
“Why isn’t he king? Explained within the first five minutes.”
All improvements, the poster obviously feels.
As for the dragon slaying?
Well, if the chatter keeps up, I bet that scene goes the way of Skipper’s ghost very soon.