Surveys polling audience reaction to theatrical attractions in New York will start to be collected Feb. 11, a spokesperson for Zagat's confirmed. The survey will run only until March 4. The first volume—taking Zagat's familiar long, rectangular, burgundy-colored form—will appear before the end of spring. In contrast to the annual eatery guides, The company expects to publish the theatre handbook at least twice a year. Since it will cover only Broadway and Off-Broadway, the edition will be comparably slim. "The theatre one is much more self-contained," said spokesperson Carol Scudder. "We're just starting with Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. That's about 70 shows." Like the other Zagat books, it will express only consumer reaction, rating each show according to theatregoer impressions of acting, writing and production values, and quoting snippets from the surveys. Undoubtably, given the familiarity of the Zagat brand, producers will use positive ratings as a weapon to combat official critical disapproval from the papers.
Zagat's is spreading word about the surveys through the Drama League, the Drama Book Store and other theatre-related businesses. It also intends to pass out cards in the theatres in question, asking attendees to go to the Zagat's website (www.zagat.com) and take the survey. Results will be printed in the Wall Street Journal before the guide is released in stores.
If all goes well, Zagat's will come out with regional and Off-Off Broadway theatre guides in the future.