Saturday, December 12, 2009

Website Evaluations: Ca-FL

The second installment of the Theatre Scene's evaluation of theatre company websites starts and ends in Palm Beach County.

Caldwell Theatre Company
Caldwell is an elder statesman of South Florida theatre, but there has recently been a changing of the guard. Like many companies, the Caldwell is struggling with its finances, but with a new Artistic Director who has made bold and critically successful choices, there's reason to hope that it has a long future ahead of it.

1. Name of Current Production - 5 points
The production graphic is prominently displayed, giving us the name of the show, a photo of most of the cast, and the playwrights' names

2. Dates of Production - 4 points
Prominently displayed, but does not indicate that the first few performances are previews.

3. Performance Schedule - 5 points
It's right under the dates. This makes it very easy for someone to plan a visit, particularly if they only have a small opening their schedule.

4. Link to Purchase Tickets - 5 points
There is a link directly next to the show graphic, and one located just below the production summary. If you read the play and decide you want to see it, it's very easy to buy a ticket. If you scroll down a little further, there's a blurb about a chance to have lunch with the case, and it's followed by another link. Very user friendly.

5. Directions to Theatre - 4 points
It's in the side bar, but there's no map or link to map, so they lose a point.


TOTAL SCORE - 23 points

An impressive score, but of course, one expects a theatre that's been around for over 34 years to have learned a thing or two. I have to say, it's higher than I expected: the website has been tweaked in the last few months.

City Theatre
City Theatre is famous for its Summer Shorts Festival, a yearly production of one-act plays. Since they only do one production a year (encompassing three different shows), it's unfair to evaluate them on the same criteria as full-time companies.

That said, it would be nice to find a larger and more detailed notice that it's closed for the season than the tiny little sign on the surf board stating "Box Office Reopens Spring 2010!" While the page is heavy on Flash, it's interface is not terribly intuitive, and feels more like a child's activity toy than a web site promoting a business. Pretty, but not terribly informative. YMMV.

0 points.

Dream Theatre Productions
Actually, this doesn't appear to be a theatre, or even a theatre company. It seems to be one guy who can't choose a specific field. But hey, we were all young, once. The home page has three links: Theatre, Film, and Dance. Clicking on theatre, we learn that they are "focused on developing projects that explore different heritages, identities and beliefs -- with a focus on the Hispanic culture and language." We also see that this was the company that produced La Gaviota, the Spanish language version of Ibsen's The Seagull, erroneously described as their current project.

0 points.

Florida Stage
Florida Stage has become a pillar of the theatre community. Founded the same year as Actors' Playhouse, this Palm Beach company has kept its focus small - and intense. The first - and only - company to specialize in new works, this company has eclipsed the rest of South Florida in National exposure.
1. Name of Current Production - 5 points
Like the Caldwell, the graphic for the show is prominent. Important announcments can be found to the right, while the sidebar on the left contains links to information about its programming, including Furthermore, which looks behind the scenes starting in pre-production, and 1st Stage, their new blog, where staff shares its views and news.
2. Dates of Production - 4 points
It threw me at first; it reads "NOW through January 17." Followed by "Click here for More Information." Fair enough, we've learned that it's playing, so looking "inside" is fine. Inside we learn that it started December 9. But is that opening night, or first preview?

Cool feature: you can click on a button to add the show to your iCal compatible calendar software. Well, it's cool if you have a Mac, anyway.

3. Performance Schedule - 0 points.
Nobody's perfect.

4. Link to Purchase Tickets - 5 points.
There's a link along side the home page graphic, in the navigation bar, and one "inside" following the Production Summary.

5. Directions to Theatre - 5 points
It's in the Navigation Bar, but it's an actually top-level menu item (it says "directions").

Bonus Points - 3
The News Room contains press releases, including program information (cast & creative team) and a logo you can download. No press photos there, but there are photos of rehearsals in FurtherMore.

I'm frankly surprised that Caldwell scored higher. So it's only a point, but I'm still surprised.

Next up: Fo-Hi.

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