Rate Your Show on ‘TrueTheatergoer’ by John Hauge

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Editor’s note: For the past two years whenever I saw those colorful TrueTheatergoer ads in our local theatres’ playbills I wondered who the mystery person(s) was/were behind this site that asked local theatergoers to rate shows on DC and Broadway stages. I was honored to have lunch with John Hauge last month where we shared theatre experiences and talked about our mutual love for the DC Metro area theatre community.

John introduces us to TrueTheatergoer. There are TrueTheatergoer ads right here on DCMetroTheaterArts. Click on them and rate the shows you have seen. As you will see below, taking the time to leave your rating will help our local theatres. Thanks to John and his brother for their generosity. I invite all our DCMetroTheaterArts readers to visit TrueTheatergoer every time you see a show – and rate it!

Stephen Hauge, on the left, John Hauge's son  David, a theatergoer, in the middle, and John Hauge on the right.
Stephen Hauge, on the left, John Hauge’s son David, also a theatergoer, in the middle, and John Hauge on the right. The photo was taken outside the Clarendon Ballroom in Arlington, VA.

From John Hauge: “My brother Stephen and I created the TrueTheatergoer.com website in October 2011 to promote theater in Washington, DC and on Broadway by providing an enriching collection of information on current shows and composite audience reviews and ratings of these shows. Our hope is to further develop a community excited about theater and willing to write short comments of shows so others can benefit from their experiences.

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During the October 2011-June 2012 “season” in Washington, DC (recognizing that several theater have productions year-round), I took advertisements in several theater playbills; gave 3-minute presentations about the website before Talkbacks began at different theatres so theater patrons could complete the short rating/review form in return for chances to win three $100 vouchers for that theatre; and awarded a $10,000 first prize and $5,000 second prize for the theater among 12 initially chosen which had the highest number of electronically filed ratings/reviews of its shows during the first six months of 2012 as a percentage of available seats (won by The Keegan Theatre and Theater J, respectively).

In the October 2012-June 2013 season, I broadened the number of theaters to 17. Building on the previous season’s activities, I suggested the following ideas, but welcomed any other recommendations individual theaters might have, so the outcome could be mutually beneficial

1) TrueTheatergoer (TT) would take an advertisement in that theater’s playbill and, once its theater patrons had filed 100 reviews on TT, TT would take out a subsequent advertisement. This process would be repeatable.

2) I would be willing to come and make a short talk with the audience on a mutually convenient night, often before a scheduled Talkback, and to describe to them TT and its goals and ask them to fill out the short rating/review form from the website which I could later input, for which the theater would receive three $100 vouchers, to be used only for its shows, to be won by audience members that night through a raffle. (These reviews would not count toward the 100 in #1 above.)

3) TT would offer the $10,000 first prize and $5,000 second prize for the most total reviews submitted by a theater’s patrons from September 2012 through June 2013 as a percent of available seats (300 seat maximum), using only the shows of the main subscription series.

4) TT would offer reviewers a chance at a monthly drawing of $100 in TIX Certificates as an incentive to participate. Each review a reviewer files in a given month would be one chance at the prize.

The business model, to cover the costs incurred, is to have enough people coming to the website for the information and/or audience ratings/reviews to attract retailers (restaurants, hotels, etc.) to run banners on the website. We do not sell tickets, so we can remain objective and can post composite audience opinions whether favorable or less so.

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Our goal is to increase the number of audience members at our Washington, DC theaters, because nothing is more perishable than an empty theater seat, so please use the website to get your theater information and file your opinions, and tell your friends.”