When most people go to a play, they either leave the Playbill they receive on their seat at the theater or dump it in a drawer somewhere at home, to be carted off eventually with spring cleaning. Not local blogger and actor Marc Gonzalez. The theater fan not only has kept all his Playbills since 2005, he’s counted and cataloged them in an effort to reach 1,000 before he dies. (Since he’s only in his mid-20s, I’d say the actuarial odds of that happening are pretty darn good.) In December 2011, Gonzalez decided to start a blog detailing his quest, which he titled “The Road to 1,000.” He also decided at that time to start writing reviews of each play — which includes both Fresno and out-of-town productions. In the process, he adds another critical voice to the local theater scene, which is always a good thing.
Gonzalez just logged his 300th show with a review of the River City Theatre Company’s production of “Ain’t Misbehavin’ “ in Reedley. I decided to mark the occasion with a Beehive Interview.
Question: What’s your favorite show out of the 300 you’ve seen?
Answer: It has to be show #264, which was “Hands on a Hardbody” at the La Jolla Playhouse a few months ago. I have never felt so emotionally attached to a musical. I hope I get to see it when it opens on Broadway next spring.
Your least favorite?
Show #4, “The Enchantment of Beauty and the Beast” at Bay Area Educational Theatre Company back in 2005. It was an original adaptation of Beauty and the Beast and it just did not work for me. I can proudly say I have never walked out of a production; however, this one was the closest I have ever come to doing that.
What made you decide to document your play-going experiences?
It was a relatively unique idea that nobody has really done. There aren’t many theater geeks out there counting their shows and saving every program and Playbill they ever get. Plus, I have always been a huge fan of seeing theater so I figured I might as well as share my experiences.
What’s the farthest you’ve traveled to see a show?
New York in February of this year. It was the first time I went to New York and the first Broadway show I saw was “The Book of Mormon”. By car I have traveled as far as Fresno to San Diego a couple of times.
What percentage of your disposable income do you figure you spend on theater?
I estimate around 80%. Just ask my family, anybody I am close friends with or have dated, and they will tell you what the majority of “date nights” or “birthday presents” consist of seeing a show.
Is it hard to review local productions when you have friends/acquaintances in the cast or crew? Have you ever ticked someone off with one of your reviews?
It is extremely difficult to review shows when I know the cast/crew. However, I have been blessed with many talented friends both here in the Valley and in the Bay Area so it’s rare that I see a bad performance from somebody I know. To my knowledge, I have definitely ticked people off with criticisms I have given in a review; but again, it is just one person’s opinion and I happen to post them online. At the end of the day, it takes an extraordinary person to stand on stage and perform, and that is always at the forefront of my mind; that every person who walks on stage should receive respect for being up there.
What do you think is the secret to a good theater review?
Thus far, I have learned a lot in reviewing and will continue to learn. For me, the secret to a good theater review is giving credit where credit is due. For example, in my review of “Assassins” at Fresno State University; I noticed that there were a lot of technical cues both with lighting and with sound. That is 100% on the stage manager to execute, and when I saw the show, the cues were flawless so I absolutely made sure to mention the stage manager. How rare is that? For an audience member to recognize the stage manager. So I believe the creative staff and production team are just as important to credit as is the cast.
What’s your goal long-term in terms of number of plays to see? How long do you think it will take to reach a thousand?
For now, the goal is 1,000 shows but I do have several ideas for after I hit 1,000. At the pace I am going (I am averaging between 70+ shows watched per year now) I think I will hit 1,000 in my early 30′s. But even after 1,000 the counting shall continue and we’ll see just how high I can really go.
You’re appearing in “The Rocky Horror Show,” which opens Oct. 26 at the Severance Theatre. Do you count a show that you’re in as part of your March to 1,000?
No, I do not count shows I perform in. They have to be a thousand I see.
Anything else you’d like to say?
I just want to express the true reason of the blog. The whole reason it is there is to help raise awareness and get people excited that there is always a show to be seen, an audition to go to, a season ticket to purchase, or a dance lesson to take. Theatre will only remain alive if both “theater” and “non-theater” people contribute. Whether it is with your talent, your wallet, or your time, every little piece counts. I have been absolutely blessed to have seen as many shows as I have, and even more blessed to have seen the quality of shows I have seen; and I am so excited to see where the next 700 and beyond take me.
You can follow Marc Gonzalez on Twitter at @brothermarc7.